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You are here: Home Page > Council and Democracy > Council News > Archived News > June 2015 > Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch

LOOK WHO’S 30!

 

This week is National Neighbourhood Watch Week and this year it’s celebrating its 30th year. The first "Home Watch Week" was held in Bedford in June 1985 and was so successful it became an annual national event.

 

In 1982, Colleen Atkins set up the first group in Bedfordshire in Chaucer Road, in Bedford which was the third in the whole country. More groups quickly followed.

 

Colleen said: "The idea of 'the Week' was the inspiration of the late Laurie Hallam, coordinator for Chinnor Close. Along with Brickhill Area Co-ordinators, Ron and Ann Fisher, we organised a week of events in Bedford in 1985 to raise awareness of Neighbourhood Watch and crime prevention – and to let offenders know of our presence. It has since been held every year in Bedford for the past 30 years.”

 

The 1985 “Week” included a Family Fun Day with stalls and activities on Longholme Meadow which culminated with the release of hundreds of balloons. There was a different event each day which included a conference held at the Park Hotel with Chief Superintendent Brian Prickett speaking about “The Fox” case, tours of Police Stations, a town centre “Home Watch” shop, a library display, a “Glenn Miller” dance at the Corn Exchange and a “Fun Quiz” which has been run for the past 30 years. As it was held in the week of 21 & 24 June, groups were encouraged to hold their own event in their street such as a Midsummer’s Day Cheese and Wine party or a Cream Tea or a ‘Longest Day BBQ’. This helped neighbours to get to know each other.

 

In the following years, the Family Fun Day grew and grew, and was moved to Russell Park on alternate years to the River Festival and had a large arena in the centre with a wide range of performances. One year, Bedfordshire PC Martin Bayfield was the commentator for the day. Martin is now a Crimewatch presenter. 

 

The event was later brought into the town centre as the “Community Fair” with stalls from various charities and organisations and attractions covering the whole of Harpur Square and in the Harpur Suite with fabulous performances on the raised area in the square. This was held each year until the market moved to Harpur Square. 

 

Colleen Atkins, who is now the Portfolio holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services at Bedford Borough Council, continued: “When I became the National Neighbourhood Watch Chair in 1994, I ensured “The Week” became a national event and it’s been held throughout the whole country since 1996. This year's national theme is Cyber Crime and Scams."

 

Bedfordshire Police is showing their support for Neighbourhood Watch Week, with their focus on telephone scams. For more information on this topic, visit http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/ (then search for ‘Week Pulls Plug on Telephone Scams).

 

For more information on Neighbourhood Watch, go to http://www.ourwatch.org.uk/

 

Follow Neighbourhood Watch on Twitter @BedfordNW

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