“Cairns crime prevention groups want you” Crime Bulletin and Woree Meeting Details!

The below article appeared in today’s Cairns Post. The Cairns Crime Bulletin for May is out, and if you live in the area, the Woree Nighbourhood Watch is holding its next meeting on Tuesday 5th of June at 7:00pm at the Commnity Learning Centre on Windarra Street.

Damon Guppy, Saturday, May 19, 2012 © The Cairns Post

UNTIL a group of youths terrorised their leafy suburb, Edge Hill residents underestimated the value of their local Neighbourhood Watch group. Join the watch in your neighbourhood.

For more than six years, the local crime prevention program survived on the goodwill of a select few.

“We had a time when we had five or six people turning up to meetings,” Edge Hill Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Anita Jones said.

“The idea was to just keep it active and ticking along.”

Interest in the group spiked late last year after a string of crimes put residents on edge, particularly reports that young thugs were “extorting” money from pedestrians trying to cross a footbridge.

About 50 people turned up to meetings to vent their fears, prompting police to ramp up patrols of the area.

“It was disturbing to see residents distraught and not getting sleep,” Ms Jones, a police volunteer, said. “But we’re turning that around.

“There was a mindset that ‘I won’t go unless I have a problem’ but people are now seeing they can come along and we can prevent crime from happening.”

Several of the city’s Neighbourhood Watch groups have enjoyed a revival, particularly in the past year, while five suburbs have closed their programs.

Groups at Forest Gardens and Mt Sheridan are on the brink of folding. The Trinity Beach program was on the verge of closing until local publisher Julie Matthews mounted a campaign that persuaded 70 people to attend a meeting last month.

Woree’s co-ordinator Alwin Koo was about to scrap his suburb’s group but a spate of car thefts and home break-ins triggered a surge in interest.

“In February, we had zero attendance but at our next meeting we got seven, then we got 12,” he said.

“We’re hoping at the next meeting it’ll double again.”

Mr Koo said the meetings addressed issues other than crime such as community safety, dangerous product recalls and natural emergencies.

Police are behind the push to revive interest in Neighbourhood Watch, saying the concept was a proven tool for law enforcers.

“We’ll certainly be involved and we’ll help any group that needs help,” the Far North’s Assistant Commissioner Katarina Carroll said. “It’s an interface between police and the community.

“We get an extraordinary amount of intelligence from Neighbourhood Watch.”

Cairns police Sen-Constable Heidi Marek, the district’s Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, said the value of the program extended beyond preventing crime.

“It’s also about improving your community generally and getting to know your neighbour,” she said.

“By becoming involved in community groups like NHW, you are able to form strong networks in your local area.

“It has become evident that particular issues being experienced by a suburb are easily resolved or addressed through groups like NHW.”

The LNP Government pledged $1 million for Neighbourhood Watch and Crime Stoppers during the pre-election campaign.

Member for Barron River Michael Trout said he was pleased with the recent rise in membership of Neighbourhood Watch groups and hoped the interest would extend to more suburbs.

Co-ordinators of thriving Neighbourhood Watch groups are trying to attract new blood to broaden the skills.

Woree and Edge Hill have used Facebook to improve their memberships, share ideas with other groups and connect with residents.



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