Farewell from New Norfolk Neighbourhood Watch

SADLY, this will be the final New Norfolk Neighbourhood Watch article. After six years of consistent work and dedication, we have decided to wind up the Watch. The reasons for doing so are explained below. We will always be very grateful to the New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News for continuing to support us throughout the years.

WE established New Norfolk Neighbourhood Watch in 2018 with the following aims:
* To improve the connection between residents and the local police.
* To encourage links between residents living within a neighbourhood and to educate and inform residents about crime rates and how to protect themselves and their families.
* To encourage people to report any suspicious behaviours to the police.

In order to achieve this, we had to try to reach as many of the local population as possible. A number of different approaches were made, including Cuppa-With-A-Cop sessions, surveys of local high school students and of local seniors to gauge how they felt about their personal safety, online polls about crime perceptions by the community, regular radio ads and interviews, market stalls, and involvement in the New Norfolk Christmas Parade, distributing hundreds of information packs.

Along with the Derwent Valley Council, we delivered the Streetsmart Handbook to local high school students. We created a website and a Facebook page. Local newspapers have always been happy to support us by printing our messages and regular articles, and in directing folk to our webpage and crime report data. TYGA radio has supported us by running radio ads on our behalf.

In 2020 due to COVID-19, we had to reconsider our focus and attempts to connect with residents. With the support of the Derwent Valley Council and Neighbourhood Watch Tasmania, we built the Connecting Derwent Valley website. At the time, it was the most comprehensive directory of all support services in the valley.

Recently, we published Tasmania Police survey results in order to inform the community of statistics reflecting residents’ perceptions of crime and their police force.

IN 2022, we were invited to attend the opening of the New Norfolk Police Station where the then police minister Jacquie Petrusma spoke highly of Neighbourhood Watch and the importance of such a scheme in the community. Having always found it difficult to connect with local police, we finally “connected” with our new local sergeant. We held two Cuppa with a Cop events in New Norfolk. Both were well attended by police, but few residents. We were invited by the mayor to attend several community meetings in the latter half of last year, which we attended along with many residents, but very few local police. New Norfolk Neighbourhood Watch has not been informed of any further outcomes from those meetings.

NEIGHBOURHOOD Watch exists in order to strengthen the connectivity between the police force and the community, but it will only be as successful as they want it to be. The community and police can use it to their advantage, but they have to actively engage. The lack of preventative policing does nothing to foster this. Neighbourhood Watch works when people are willing to work for the greater good and have the desire to contribute to the creation of safer living conditions within their community. The openness and publicity of the police is equally as important if they are to gain the trust of the community.

A RECONSIDERATION of our role in the community indicates that given the lack of interest by townsfolk, police and council in working together, there is no benefit in us continuing to run New Norfolk Neighbourhood Watch in its current form as it is obviously not something that is valued. We have achieved all we can achieve, given the obstacles.

We apologise to our followers who rely on us and read our articles and interact on our Facebook page, and we thank you for your support over the past six years. Our Facebook page and webpage will be decommissioned. We will no longer publish newspaper articles or crime reports. We hope that the Connecting Derwent Valley webpage can continue, so we offer it to any community organisation that believes it could be a valuable asset to their operations. Please email us at admin@nnnw.org.au if you are interested in that opportunity.

ALWAYS report any suspicious activity to the police. In an emergency or when a crime is taking place, call 000. If a crime has already happened, call 131 444. For anonymous reporting, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestopperstas.com.au

See more Derwent Valley and Central Highlands news online and read our print edition every second Friday.

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