RYEDALE, SCARBOROUGH, WHITBY & FILEY
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH ASSOCIATION
(incorporating Rural Watch)
CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT
Firstly, a very warm welcome to our AGM here in Hinderwell and then a big sincere thank you all for the commitment and hard work that you and your Neighbourhood Watch Teams have undertaken in order to ensure that the area covered by our Association within North Yorkshire remains a low crime district.
However, I do feel very strongly that as a NHW Association we could have done more to protect our area and been more pro-active had North Yorkshire Police engaged with us much earlier to announce that we were never again to be allowed onto the platform of the NYP Community Messaging System – more about that later !
In particular, I would like to thank Steve Law for his continued outstanding work and commitment as our Administrator who agreed to take on also the role of Secretary as well as being our Administrator with special responsibility for our Association’s website for which we can be well proud – and I thank him for his further work in this respect.
Very kindly, Steve Law continues to sponsor our RSWF NHWA website (which I trust you all visit regularly along with that of National NHW ie www.ourwatch.org.uk!).
Overall, despite the general lack of pro-activity by North Yorkshire Police to bond with our Association over these past twelve months, nevertheless I believe that the area covered by our Association has remained reasonably active within the various local NHW Schemes.
In my last Annual Report, you may remember that I expressed concerns about NHW in the Whitby area and later in this Report I shall be bringing you up to date with the progress made within that part of our County.
As you may be aware already, NHW is seeking to get away from the "behind net curtains image" by supporting the Police more effectively with greater involvement in serious crimes such as child exploitation, domestic abuse and drugs, vulnerable persons, burglary and road safety, especially with the support of younger members that we are trying to attract.
NHW District Meetings with the Police – previously held at Scarborough Police Station – were discontinued as you know and whilst initially they were replaced by attendance of NHW representatives at meetings of the Scarborough Community Impact Team (and in Ryedale with an equivalent Team), it is disappointing to report that certainly in the Scarborough/Filey areas even these appear to have no longer involved NHW representatives due to a number of circumstances.
Peter French has been active as regards recruitment within Ryedale and no doubt he will be able to update us upon his initiatives: in particular, Peter French has been much involved with Steve Law and myself regarding the pursuance of re-gaining access to the NYP Community Messaging Service about which I shall comment later in this Report and Peter will update you further.
NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE COMMUNITY MESSAGING SERVICE
I would like to record special thanks to PCSO Rowland Baxter for the sterling work that he has undertaken to hygiene some of our NHW data whilst on light duties – his findings have been much appreciated albeit that the work has resulted in considerable numbers of Members being removed from our data base due to their circumstances to withdraw from NHW for one reason or another, illness, moving away or the inevitable that happens to us all.
As reported in my CMS Update of 19th December, your Association’s Officers have been extremely frustrated regarding the lack of progress in being able to regain our Association's access to the North Yorkshire Police (NYP) CMS dedicated NHW Channel following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - a new EU regulation which came into force on 25th May 2018 with an aim to improve privacy and give greater control over personal information and how it is used. In our case – it has worked against us !!!
Because of this legislation, NYP immediately barred our direct access to NHW data held on its computer – and this even included Steve Law in his capacity as a Police Support Volunteer: during 2019 your Officers have striven with much determination to seek a solution, conscious of the fact that this unsatisfactory situation was having a very detrimental impact upon our ability to communicate effectively and also our capability as an Association to move forward, especially with the development of our Business Plan and recruitment.
Initially, we had been informed by the NYP Partnership Hub that to facilitate resumption of our Association's access to the Everbridge CMS, the following documents needed to be completed and signed by an Executive Officer of NYP and our Association Officer(s):
1. a Local Partnership Agreement
2. a Data Protection Agreement
3. an Information Sharing Agreement
Hence we invested very considerable time and effort in preparing a Local Partnership Agreement for presentation to NYP in the areas of North Yorkshire covered by our Association.
This included correspondence originated by myself as Chair to all concerned in entering into such a Local Partnership Agreement which included the new Superintendent based in Scarborough (Andrea Kell) since we had understood that it would have been the Supt and the Chair of the Association that were required to sign the Agreement: NO response has ever been received from Supt Kell which I find to be somewhat disappointing.
Indeed I became extremely frustrated by the total lack and courtesy of senior NYP management to respond to our e-mails aimed at progressing matters and so we decided to have a video call meeting involving Steve Law, Peter French and myself when we agreed to delegate responsibility to Peter French to liaise initially with local Ryedale/Whitby Inspector Dennison in an attempt to progress matters.
Only in the Autumn of 2019 were we told by the Partnership Hub that after seeking further advice regarding GDPR2018 implications, it then understood that it was more sensible to transfer NHW data back to NHW with the support of National NHW – months of our initiatives wasted !
As far as I am aware, the only Messages seemingly sent out over these past 12 months via the CMS NHW dedicated channel has been those Messages originated by the Association and transmitted with the aid of NYP personnel.
A full update of the current situation will be presented shortly by Peter French who has acted in the capacity as “Deputy Chair” and for his commitment and work to progress matters in liaison with Inspector Dennison, I would like to express our appreciation.
Basically, we have declared “UDI” and decided to facilitate an alternative Area Alert Scheme in conjunction with Neighbourhood Watch Network in the early part of 2020, initially restricted to Ryedale as a pilot – so as I said in my December Update, we are looking forward to 2020 with much optimism and positivity !
What concerns me is a similar issue that has arisen in Florida where until recently my wife and myself owned a villa.
The Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd stopped reporting crime data to the public on 12th August 2019 apparently due to Marsy’s Law – legislation intended to help victims not to create more victims! It now prevents the Sheriff from informing the public about criminal activity, and whilst the equivalent of our NHW accepts that crime is never going to reduce to zero, nevertheless its goal (like our own) is to lower the level of crime, and by law enforcement sharing information with the public in the hope of apprehending more criminals – they believe like ourselves that this police-community feedback loop helps law enforcement to reduce the number and severity of crimes. For example, if there is a prowler in a neighbourhood, the Sheriff no longer has the power to inform local residents about it – if a local resident reports someone peeping into a neighbour’s house, no one will hear about it, unless of course the local residents send out a radiation message. Likewise, when a neighbour gets burgled, other local residents may never know, providing criminals with more time to hit more houses in the locality.
Surely, we do not want this to happen in the UK! But that seems to be where we are at present – no longer do we seem to be trusted “with intelligence” that is not available to the general public !
Yes - frankly, this is where many of us find ourselves today – lacking intelligence from North Yorkshire Police which may otherwise aid them in apprehending criminals !
Thus, when we switch to the Alert communication system, we need to seek to ensure that once again NHW Co-Ordinators regain that vital link between the Police ie local Police Community Support Officers and NHW – something that we shall need to re-establish, because generally I feel that it is now very much sadly lacking.
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH NETWORK
Formerly known as the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network but now known as Neighbourhood Watch Network (NWN), this is the strategic voice for the movement and is supported by the Home Office and two sponsors - ERA Home Security and the Co-op Insurance – you’ll see references to the latter on the reverse of our current edition of window stickers !
We should remember that Neighbourhood Watch is the UK’s largest voluntary crime prevention movement with well over 8 million member households and nationally sees tens of thousands of volunteers sharing information every week to help keep themselves and their communities safe from crime.
NWN inspires Neighbourhood Watch Schemes to know that their active Schemes are an excellent way of preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, reducing the fear of crime and building stronger and safer communities.
Even in areas where crimes rates are low, the fear of crime, particularly among vulnerable people, can be high.
Involvement in NHW Schemes can reassure vulnerable residents and provide support to those who are worried about their safety and security – and the website of NWN reports many success stories.
I have frequently encouraged NHW Members in particular to visit the website of NWN – www.ourwatch.org.uk - which in the November edition outlines very comprehensively how NWN can support NHW Schemes – perhaps something we can visit again.
In case you are not aware already, as reported in the November NWN News, a partnership between NHW and Avast – a leading cybersecurity firm – has been launched to promote cybersecurity and to hlp prevent online fraud within communities, since cybercrime seems to be more of a threat than physical crime for a rising number of households across England and Wales, with people either falling victim personally or knowing someone who has been a victim of online theft.
Avast’s support will include a range of services to help NHW members become more informed and less at risk of falling victim to cybercrime – more information is contained on https://www.avast.com/uk-cyberhood.
Recently, I thas been reported that one in three UK adults have been a victim of neighbourhood crime, according to a new report from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch.
Based on hundreds of thousands of insurance claims and a YouGov survey of 4,000 UK adults, the report looks at crime trends across UK neighbourhoods and the effect it has on those who have been victims.
Over a third (38%) of UK adults have been a victim of neighbourhood crime, with two fifths (41%) having had their homes broken into.
However, a fifth (20%) of victims chose not to contact the police.
When asked why this was, over half (59%) said they weren’t convinced that the police would do anything about it and a further one in six (16%) didn’t trust that the police would be able to help them.
Just three in five (58%) victims who reported the crime said that they were visited by the police and less than a third (31%) were visited within the hour of the crime being reported.
Of those who didn’t receive a police visit, three in five (58%) victims were given a crime reference number, whilst one in eight (13%) received a phone call.
The research highlights a potential lack of understanding among many UK adults when it comes to police response times.
As you may or not be aware – and I can confirm what I am about to say from my days working in the Force Control Room - all calls made to the police are prioritised based upon their severity and whilst some will receive an immediate response, others may not require a police visit until hours later if at all – not all happens as on TV within seconds !!!
Despite this, when asked how the absence of police at the scene of a neighbourhood crime made victims feel, over half (59%) said they felt as though they weren’t important.
Interestingly, two fifths (41%) felt angry, whilst one in four (26%) were upset – in other words a total of 67% were annoyed with the Police !
As the nights drew in and we entered the winter months, Co-op Insurance warned people to ensure they have robust security measures in place to keep their homes safe.
Business data from the insurer reveals that the number of theft claims increase by a third (35%) in the months following the clocks going back, with November being the month when most burglaries take place.
Throughout the year, light fingered thieves are most likely to make their move on a Friday and, with November being the most common month for home break ins, Fridays in November prove to be a particularly popular time for burglars to strike.
Of the 41% of UK adults who have been a victim of burglary, almost a third (28%) said it happened during the night.
A quarter (24%) were targeted in the afternoon, a fifth (20%) in the evening, whilst just 6% were burgled in the morning.
Over a quarter (29%) of victims were at home when the burglary took place, with one in five (22%) being asleep.
At work, on holiday or out for dinner were also among the common places people were when their property was broken into – unfortunately folks never learn the lesson of not to broadcast on social media their whereabouts such as Facebook’s “Check-In” facility – fabulous intelligence to the criminals!!!
When it comes to how burglars are breaking and entering, a third (33%) broke down a door, a quarter (23%) smashed a window and a tenth (10%) gained access via a door or window which was accidentally left open
Again, I do urge that Members do take advantage of the very comprehensive information that is contained on its revamped webpage www.ourwatch.org.uk
In accordance with the Standards and Roles for representatives of Ryedale, Scarborough, Whitby and Filey NHW Association, we have a Business Plan in place but for the reasons outlined above in respect of our communication issues, we have been prevented from progressing our Plan effectively – we have been unable to determine directly details of our Members, where Schemes are located and in many cases where there is potential for new Schemes, due to the lack of communication between NYP and NHW which hopefully will now see improvements and aid work to progress our Plan.
That said, a fruitful meeting was held at Hinderwell on 9th April 2019 which I will tell you about in a moment.
LEEDS EVENT / THE BIG LUNCH
On Tuesday 6th August 2019, I accepted an invitation from Neighbourhood Watch Network to attend one of its several Summer Seminars that were being arranged across the country, this one being at the Clayton Hotel at City Walk in Leeds and attended by over 150 NHW Members, others being held in Cardiff and London.
Basically, the Seminar included a review of the last twelve months and its 3 Year Strategy, followed by a presentation from NWN’s partner “The Big Lunch” and a presentation by West Yorkshire Police, with three sessions of workshops to follow later in the day which manifested how several NHW Schemes had contributed to making substantial changes and improvements to their local environments such as play areas etc to bring residents working closer together.
There was an excellent presentation detailing their partnership with NHW from West Yorkshire Police by Chris Joyce (its Force Crime Prevention Officer) and the workshops provided challenges as to what activities could a NHW Scheme do to address particular local community issues.
Apparently, we have reached a point whereby only 20% of people know the names of their immediate neighbours.
Closeness in our neighbourhoods has been eroded over time and is one of those things we only really notice when it has gone. We cannot afford to let the distance between us open up any further I think you will agree and now is the time to do everything we can to close that gap!
Hence, the 2020 NHW Week will encourage the spirit of NHW, since this will help to reduce crime as well as aid to overcome the fact that research has revealed that very few of the UK population know the names of their neighbours, so objectives will be to
? Raise awareness of NHW by getting to know our neighbours – knowing neighbours helps prevent crime !
? Be neighbourly, by keeping a keen eye on those around us and engaging younger members to form a Young NHW Group
? Be active in our community – organize a Big Curry etc in the Autumn or a Big Lunch event in the near future to involve those that do not usually strengthen our NHW Schemes and to be active to attract new NHW Schemes as well as active with minority groups, parish/town councils and voluntary bodies etc, possibly entering into joint ventures
Nothing particularly new to any of us perhaps, but a focus reminder is always a good idea and we are encouraged to participate in The Big Lunch 2020 Event over 6th/7th June as one way of achieving these objectives – an event that is simply about bringing people together to share food and have fun, the presentation at the Seminar having been given by Tracey Robbins from the Big Lunch.
NWN is collating case studies and would love to speak to people about an event they have organized in the past or plan to organize – the point of contact is its Senior Communications and Digital Manager Deborah Waller (Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org).
Details relating to the rationale of The Big Lunch project will be attached to the Minutes of this meeting in a document “Closing The Distance Between Us” which is well worth spending a few minutes to study – whilst we are encouraged to participate over the “official week-end dates” 6th – 7th June 2020, it does not have to be those dates, as other ideas could be an event to mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day etc, bearing in mind that the Early May Day BH has been moved in 2020 to Friday 8th May.
I shall be recommending to the Committee that we incorporate within our Business Plan the ideals of Closing The Distance Between Us.
The following link provides more information about The Big Lunch 2020:
It was thought also that possibly some NHW Members may be interested in attending the Eden Project community camps for people across the UK who want to start a community project or are already doing something and want to take the next step. The camps are free to attend and were due to take place in late September and November. More information, can be found here: https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/community-camps
WHITBY NHW RE-LAUNCH MEETING – HINDERWELL
As I have just mentioned, a very well attended and positive meeting was held on 9th April in this very church hall of Hinderwell Methodist Church after attempts to arrange a meeting in Whitby Town had failed, the intent of that meeting being to identify a replacement District Lead for Whitby Town.
Instead, a big thank you to Marie Newby for arranging the Hinderwell venue at short notice after the original venue became unavailable at Whitby Police Station due to operational needs – and also to Hazel Hickman for assisting with great enthusiasm the organization of that meeting at such short notice – it’s truly great to have such people on board !
The main purpose of that meeting was to act as a refresher regarding the purpose of NHW and to provide an opportunity for ideas as to how together Members can best shape the future of NHW in the Whitby area and to expand its Membership base.
Guest Speaker at the Hinderwell meeting was Andy Fox – formerly of NYCC’s Trading Standards but now NYP’s Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer who delivered a fascinating and most informative presentation relating to cybercrime and all its issues that we need to be mindful of: to avoid those irritating cold telephone calls he suggested installing such call blockers as the True Call Secure service (£130) or the Panasonic KX TGJ320EB or TGK220EW product or BT’s 4800 system (possibly pre-installed).
As a result of that meeting, Glen Sanderson came forward as a potential District Lead for Whitby Rural subject to the area to be covered being first identified. Due to the obstacles of our dis-engagement from the NYP CMS system, we have been unable to move this matter forward.
A further positive outcome of the meeting was that the Hinderwell NHW Scheme has been re-activated by Hazel Hickman who has already established NHW local presence on Facebook and possibly other social media – so very well done to Hazel and her NHW volunteers.
It was with great disappointment that I learned in late November from PC Neil Cholmondeley of his decision to resign from NYP because he informed me that due to his being required to undertake a new role (which seemingly comprised being office bound), after having obtained in the past a transfer from the Road Policing Group to become part of your Neighbourhood Policing Team.
The news came about after I had invited Neil to this AGM and let him know how much the local community had appreciated his work. Neil told me that he had always tried to give of his best and had a genuine passion for Neighbourhood Policing because he believes strongly that the Police should be visible and be part of the community, something which he had always tried to do.
Neil also commented that he felt that the local community had contributed a lot back and made his job a lot easier with their input and always felt very much supported by them for which he will always be grateful.
I wrote to express NHW’s appreciation for all his support and to wish him every success for the future “in pastures new”. He informed me that PCSO 5628 Kathryn Bean has responsibility for the Mulgrave Ward beat which includes Hinderwell and that her e-mail address is: Kathryn.Bean@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk Frankly, I feel that at a time that the Government is recruiting some 20,000 extra copes, it seems unsatisfactory to lose an experienced police officer but whilst having to acknowledge that the Police Service is a disciplined organization, nevertheless job satisfaction should be of paramount important as well.
STOCKS OF NHW SIGNS
I have ascertained from the NYP Partnership Hub that as at mid-December 2019 the following stocks are held, from which you will observe that currently no A3 size NHW signs are held in stock:
NHW A3 0
NHW A4 203
NHW A5 159
NHW GATEPOST 386
NHW WHITE A4 178
RURAL A3 39
RURAL A4 168
RURAL A5 38
RURAL GATEPOST 349
None of us should ever become complacent but must remain vigilant at all times, reporting to the Police ANYTHING that is suspicious – especially vulnerable in recent months across the country have been many of our places of worship which have had lead stripped from their roofs – somebody somewhere surely must have seen the culprits ?
We appreciate that Co-Ordinators cannot be available 24/7.
The most effective crime prevention is to report ANYTHING that is suspicious to the Police via 101 without delay (or 999 if a crime is being committed) in order that the Police can be given an immediate opportunity to respond accordingly (also advising the relative Co-Ordinator in due course please) – providing descriptions of individuals (sex, height, hair, clothes), details of vehicles being used (ie make, model, colour etc) and directions of travel.
By continuing to work together, we can seek to ensure that criminals with intent have a poor financial return for their efforts and become so frustrated that they pursue their activity well away from North Yorkshire…ideally not at all !
Chair - RYEDALE, SCARBOROUGH, WHITBY & FILEY NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH ASSOCIATION (incorporating Rural Watch)
8th January 2020