An ‘undervalued’ Sheffield group which works with police to tackle crime has urged more people to join in the wake of budget cuts to the force.
Neighbourhood Watch has issued the plea after it was revealed the number of Police Community Support Officers is being cut from 250 to 180 – described as the ‘death of neighbourhood policing’ – because of financial cuts.
Neighbourhood Watch is a nationwide scheme which has existed since 1982 whereby people living close to each other can join together to make their area a safer place.
South Yorkshire has more than 3,500 Neighbourhood Watch schemes.
Sheffield Neighbourhood Watch district chair Wendy Zealand said members are ‘valuable eyes and ears when resources are limited’.
She said: “We are all volunteers who care about improving our communities and supporting the police and partners in their difficult jobs in these budget cut times.
“Let’s be united in improving society and neighbourhood living. Good reporting, litter picking, caring for vulnerable people and many other things are undertaken where they are needed.
“Why are we so undervalued? Why are we not one of the first groups to be thought of in partnership working? Probably because we get on with things quietly.
“We are the reliable eyes and ears when partner resources are limited. We are not curtain twitchers but people who know what is needed to enhance their neighbourhoods.
“There are many good reasons for joining Neighbourhood Watch but the biggest is because the police and partners are having restraints imposed and need our constant support in the work that they do.”
A police spokesman said: “South Yorkshire Police alone cannot prevent crime: we rely on the help of the public to identify and tackle problems at a local level.
“Although individuals can help by making their own homes more secure, we can achieve more together by acting in organised groups in our local communities.
“Neighbourhood Watch is a great example of one of these groups complementing the work of police by helping to reduce fear of crime, supporting neighbours, identifying trouble, and working with young people to stop them getting involved in crime or anti-social behaviour.”
n Visit www.southyorks.police.uk/content/neighbourhood-watch to get involved.