EDITORIAL - Bring back Neighbourhood Watch schemes

 

A Neighbourhood Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programmes known to man. It brings citizens together with law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer. That said, these groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbours to be alert and observant and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police or Crime Stoppers Barbados.
 
Here in this country, it is clear that Neighbourhood Watches need to be strengthened, and in some cases revived, in an effort to reduce the incidence of certain types of crime carried out in vulnerable communities. 
We have all grown up hearing that we need to be our brother’s keeper, and though the society is growing more and more individualistic by the minute, some things do require a group effort. While the idea of a Neighbourhood Watch may not appeal to some, who have decided to keep to themselves and mind their own business, we can easily see how such positions taken may easily turn around when crime becomes widespread.
 
Most Barbadians will tell you that they know of someone who has been a victim of a crime. Whilst the focus at present is on the ever increasing spate of gun violence, which many say is being fuelled by the illegal drug trade, we must not forget that there are other types of crime  being committed, which are being over shadowed by violent crime. 
 
For instance, some persons in Barbados can easily recount a story or two about a break-in that happened in their community or one close-by. Let us not forget that just recently, some criminals were dressing in a professional manner and trying to impersonate personnel from various businesses, in an effort to gain entry into the homes of citizens. It is fair to say that burglars are usually looking for cash and other key valuables that can easily fit into whatever bag they may be carrying, but who is to say that a startled burglar will not turn violent?
 
Homeowners really need to consider not only instituting Neighbourhood Watches as part of a community-based crime prevention programme, but they need to generally think of what they can do to make their homes and communities safer. Neighbours who are home during the day can perhaps be on the lookout for suspicious activity. Homeowners can then go the extra mile to secure windows and doors, install motion sensor lights and even alarm systems if they deem it necessary.
 
Remember, the aim is to reduce preventable crime, all the while promoting closer ties in the community. Neighbourhood Watches do place some responsibility on homeowners to protect their property and those of others, but we should all remember that we can work in partnership with the police force as well to ensure that we have safe communities in which to life and thrive.
 
The issue of gun crimes is a bigger matter that needs to be addressed on a multi-disciplinary level, rather than at the level of a Neighbourhood Watch, but we can all agree that it is best to tackle what is within our reach first so as to make inroads in reducing crime on a whole.
 

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