Monthly Archives: April 2017

Thoughts of a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator (2): crime statistics

We’ve been sent a message recently with some crime statistics. It reads ‘Please find attached a breakdown of the crimes [sic] types and number that occurred in your area in March 2017′ and a spreadsheet is attached.

I note the following:

a) There is no indication of what ‘your area’ is. Is it the whole of the place we live in? The part on our side of the river? Our local beat? Any smaller unit than that would make us quite a hotspot.

b) We were sent a similar breakdown of crimes a few months ago, but have had nothing since then until now, so it is impossible to get a picture of whether crime is going up or down, is seasonal, is changing in nature, or any other kind of longitudinal analysis.

c) The crimes are arranged alphabetically by type of crime using detailed categories, so that (for example) burglaries appear under both ‘Burglary….’ and ‘Other….’, not grouped together which makes it hard to get an overall picture.

d) I’m relieved to see that there have been no instances of murder or manslaughter and several other major crimes are absent. But has there really been no arson? Cars get set on fire quite often in the locality – should this be classified in a way that makes it clear fire was involved? And I don’t understand all the types of crime, for example ‘Engage in Controlling/Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate Family Relationship’. I’d have thought this was quite common, but not usually a matter for the police; presumably there is a line that has to be crossed before it is. Similarly with ‘Sending letters etc with intent to cause distress or anxiety (Mal Comms)’ which seems to be one of the commoner crimes round here.

For these reasons I won’t be circulating the spreadsheet round my NW email list.

Thoughts of a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator (1): the email list

For the last few months we’ve been organisers of the Neighbourhood Watch in our street. This mostly means sending out email messages every few days to an email list of residents in the street. The contents are mostly police alerts about crime (actual or tips on prevention) but so as not to be too downbeat I include other local information such as the progress of a nearby housing development and websites which can be used for local matters such as Nextdoor or FixMyStreet.

Every so often I distribute letters to the households which are not yet on the list, which update about recent crime and encourage them to join the list, assuring them the their email address won’t be made known to anyone else. There are quite a number of these absentees, and it’s hard to see the reason for this. Not all the ‘missing households’ are short-term residents (who, sadly, are the ones most in need of crime warnings as they are more likely to be targets); I’m still waiting to hear from a local Parliamentary candidate (!) and from another household which readily signed up to Nextdoor.

In many cases it’s just inertia. People say ‘Got your letter – will try to remember to send you my email address’. And sometimes the replies to our letters have indeed been delayed. Beyond that there may be an (incorrect) feeling that NW is a way of spying on other people in the street. And a general reluctance to give your email address away. Perhaps a fear of spam, or of phishing or hacking attempts coming via email. This is ironic, as one of the topics the email list sends helpful information about is how to beware of electronic crime.