LOOK WHO’S 30!
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
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/
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