Babergh: Police pressed over speed watch impact

Sudbury volunteers at the launch of the new Streetwatch website

Sudbury volunteers at the launch of the new Streetwatch website - Credit: Archant

Council members have asked for proof that a police-backed voluntary crime prevention scheme is having an effect.

Suffolk Street Watch projects, which operate in areas such as Hadleigh, Sudbury and Cornard, are run by local people who patrol the streets wearing high-visibility vests.

The idea of the police and community partnership initiative is to empower people to take ownership of public spaces. The volunteers, who patrol in pairs, help police by reporting information back to the force.

A website enabling volunteers to arrange patrol shifts and find details of the scheme was launched in May.

Sudbury Town Council donated £250 to help set the site up, and web designer Kevin Polley gave a presentation to council members this week to encourage them to give more.

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He said: “Street watch was a nationally funded police backed scheme run by residents who want to promote good citizenship and support a stronger neighbourhood.

“In conjunction with Suffolk Police, Sudbury residents had already started patrolling in the town but they were left high and dry when national funding was cut without warning last year.

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“The scheme in the Babergh area has already grown and it looks like Haverhill is keen to join. The website is a valuable tool for promoting what we do and for allowing members to communicate with each other. But we only have limited funding so we need to secure sponsorship to help maintain and develop the site.”

But council members said they would like to see evidence that the scheme was having an impact on crime before they committed more money. Russell Smith, said: “It has to be more than people walking around in high-visibility vests. It would be good if we could hear some success stories and get some figures on the website showing how effective Streetwatch has been.”

Babergh Police Inspector Paul Crick said it was difficult to quantify the impact of Street watch schemes with data. But he added: “Last year we experienced a dramatic drop in crime and in particular, incidences of anti-social behaviour, and Streetwatch has certainly played a part in this drop. The scheme has also led us to detect low-level drug offences.

“We also have received reports that suggest elderly residents and young mums feel safer in their environment as a result of the patrols.”

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