29/06/2004

Regional Neighbourhood Watch Scheme launched by Minister

NIO Minister John Spellar today launched the new Regional Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

Encouraging local communities throughout Northern Ireland to become involved, Mr Spellar outlined the scheme: "This exciting new regional initiative offers the opportunity for local communities, urban and rural, throughout Northern Ireland, to positively influence community safety within their areas," the Minister said.

"The scheme will enable local communities to become better informed and so address the issues of crime, fear of crime and anti social behaviour within their areas through the involvement of all their citizens.

"With the support of the local Police Units and Community safety Partnerships, the local Watch Projects will have real and immediate impacts on community safety."

Encouraging communities to get involved, the Minister highlighted the diversity of the first projects identified: "Already, 10 projects, covering more than 45 local communities, are the first to participate in this new initiative. Some of these are relatively small geographically, operating at street or village level. Others involve the coordination and participation of eight or more local communities covering quite an extensive area.

"Each will receive guidance and support over the next few months so that they can become operational as soon as possible."

The Scheme, which is to be affiliated with its UK counterpart, will provide training and advice to local people, as well as signs to mark the visible presence of it locally.

The Community Safety Unit of the Northern Ireland Office, with the PSNI's Community Safety Unit and the Policing Board, are sponsoring the Scheme's introduction in Northern Ireland.

(MB)

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