Residents are being encouraged to set up new Neighbourhood Watch schemes with police and the council working together to publicise a re-launch of an idea which dates back to the 1980s.
The idea, which relies at its simplest, on neighbours keeping an eye on each others’ property emerged in the late 1980s and proved so effective insurers began offering discounts to those who were members.
But as house burglaries and crime in general became increasingly uncommon in the early years of this century, the popularity of the schemes waned, although the organisation has remained in place.
Crime has risen sharply in the last couple of years, with new Watch schemes emerging spontaneously in areas like Thurgoland which had experienced very little crime before finding their community repeatedly targeted by offenders.
Today’s Neighbourhood Watch groups also have the benefit of new technology to help, including a new ‘alerts’ system which is currently being rolled out by South Yorkshire Police.
That provides information and crime and other useful guidance to those who sign up, using smartphones to communicate.
The information is provided on a neighbourhood level and so far more than 10,000 people have signed up across the county.
A launch event for the new look Neighbourhood Watch will be held on Friday at Barnsley Town hall, from noon to 7pm, with volunteers and police present to offer guidance.
PC Ross Greenwood, from the Kendray Neighbourhood team, said: “We are looking forward to seeing and speaking to plenty of people about Neighbourhood Watch schemes and how they can help us in our objectives.
“Officers throughout Barnsley, and across South Yorkshire, are working hard day in day out to tackle the issues that matter most to local communities and to keep people safe. We want to ensure that Barnsley is an enjoyable and safe place to live, work and visit.
“Volunteers who take part in Neighbourhood Watch can help us with exactly that by providing information and flagging areas of concern through regular contact with local neighbourhood teams.”
“Whether you’re interested in volunteering, want to know more, or just want to have a chat with your local policing team, I’d encourage you to come along; the event is open to anyone.”
Chief Constable Stephen Watson and Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings will both be attending the event from 12.30pm for an official opening.