'The objective of community watch is to deter crime and give a sense of security to our community. '

 

Burwood-Pegasus

Burwood-Pegasus Community Watch was formed in 1995. Made of some 40 members the organisation was funded by the Burwood-Pegasus Community Board, the Christchurch East Rotary Club, along with other generous donations donated the car. It finally started in July 1995.

Community watch is not an extension of the Police. Simply the eyes and ears of them. If called we will assist; otherwise it is a night patrol of Residential, Industrial and Business areas. Daytime patrols include Schools Kindergartens and residential areas. There is no set pattern when it comes to patrolling. Patrols run seven nights a week and some days.

 

Hornby

History
It all started one night in October 1994 when a group of fifty three people representing a cross section of society met with Hornby Police representatives, at the Hornby High School auditorium to consider the creation of a Community Watch group in the Hornby Policing area.

The aim was to widen the scope of the Neighbourhood Support Groups, by patrolling the streets in a random manner using a sponsored car, using the "eyes and ears" formula already being utilised by Neighbourhood Support Groups and encouraged by the NZ Police.

Although Community Watch Hornby works closely with the Community Police, we are a separate entity responsible for their own administration, funding, training, and organisation.

Over the next four months the original group of people set about making "it" happen. They set up a committee; started organising fund raising; arranged guidelines and training for the members; set up a safety communications system; organised safety equipment for the car including spot lights on the car to assist with viewing alleys and parks; contacted all members; and organised a rostering system. NZ Insurance supplied a sponsored vehicle for the task ahead. NZ Insurance have regularly replaced the car as the mileage increases and sponsorship of the Hornby Watch vehicle continues to date.

On 18 January 1995 the first rostered patrols started what has continued to be a regular occurrence around the Hornby, Hei Hei, Halswell, Templeton, Sockburn, Templeton and Prebbleton suburbs, Wednesdays to Saturdays. Within six months the Hornby Watch was patrolling seven nights a week. Recognition as an incorporated society followed in 1996

Operations
Volunteers are vetted by Police and the committee before joining in a rostered patrol. Each person is rostered on at approximately 4-6 weekly intervals. A crew of between two and four people is on at any time. Their role is to observe any suspicious activities or areas of concern and report them direct to the watches base radio operator or the Police Control Room, as appropriate. The patrollers have no more powers than the normal 'Joe Public' they merely provide another set of eyes and ears for the Police, and hopefully provide a deterrent to possible criminal activities. The patrollers do NOT get actively involved in incidents they merely observe and record.

Initially our patrollers spent quite some time establishing what was "normal" around the coverage area. During the first month, one Morris 1300 parked in an isolated area was reported every night. As time went by, it was established that this was "normal?". This car remained in this location for about three months before disappearing - the patrollers then noted that it had been removed.

Canterbury Trustbank Community Trust funding has enabled the Watch to purchase its own radios and a computer to improve efficiency. Other local organisations have assisted by supplying or financing the purchase of necessary equipment to make the patroller's job easier.

The NZ Police in Hornby and Christchurch, and especially the Hornby Area Constable provide guidance in training and keep the patrols informed of areas of concern to them, as well as providing feedback on patrol observations where appropriate. Their assistance covering fuel costs is very much appreciated.

Ongoing costs are being met by donations from various businesses around the area of coverage and fundraising activities organised by the Watch. Grants from The Hillary Commission, and The Riccarton Wigram Community Board of the Christchurch City Council have also assisted. Shell Carmen Road offers a welcome supper stop for the patrollers and used to provide an after hours parking space for the vehicle until a Police Radio was placed in the vehicle earlier this year. Sign writing on the car acknowledges major donations by businesses.

Feedback
Since beginning patrols the Community Watch Hornby have extended their tasks to providing information on faulty street and traffic lights, road work faults, damage to council property, reporting unlit heavy vehicles, tracing missing vehicles, etc. We now have quite a data base on who to contact about the various observations. Eg. Activated security alarms are reported to the various security companies or the business concerned.

Our patrols also receive requests from school administrators, businesses and individuals who have concerns about their premises or who have sighted some incident which they feel should be followed up. It is felt that some people call on our patrollers to check on what they feel is a minor incident, rather than call the Police. Sometimes the presence of our car seems to act as a deterrent to possible further damages or activities, at other times our patrollers call in the Police to deal with the incident. In either case, the incident is noted in the patroller's report for transmission by fax to the Police station after the patrol finishes.

When the patrols first started patrollers felt that some of the police personnel and security firms were rather wary of the patrols presence. The Watch's credentials are now such that we are asked from time to time to assist the police to locate people or vehicles or assist with cordons. Some security personnel have asked for our assistance in observing an area of concern to them.

Feedback from members of the watch indicate that they have become more aware of what is happening around them and some have indicated that they find themselves casting a more critical eye over cars parked in unusual places, or people moving around - even when they are not on patrol. It is not unusual for the car to receive a call from another member who is not on duty, to tell them of something that has caught their attention, and suggesting that the car check it out.

Many of the patrollers are also becoming familiar with the descriptions of some of the more regular troublemakers around the area, some of whom seem to delight in trying to lure the patrols into a cat and mouse game.

All in a days work
Like all situations funny stories have surfaced from time to time. There was one night when the patrol observed what looked like someone silhouetted against a light inside an otherwise unlit building. The patrol observed this person for some time before opting to call the Police. In the meantime a security guard arrived - went inside - and found a cut out model of Michael Jordan!!!!!! We're not sure if the patrollers were more embarrassed about the fact that it was a cut out model or relieved that it was not a body as they had been thinking it may have been. It gave the staff at Police Communications a good laugh for the night...

Another incident early in our existence involved one of our patrols stopping and talking to some people who appeared to be having trouble getting a car started. It later came to our attention that those people were actually stealing the car.

One of the more frightening incidents our patrollers have had to deal with was when they were invited to get out of the car and get their throats cut. Naturally our patrollers declined the invitation.

On a more positive note, another patrol came across some young people "attacking" a vehicle. This vehicle was later found abandoned in another district. With the information gathered from the earlier observation the Police would have had plenty of worthwhile information to follow up on this case.

Our patrols have reported a number of fires over the years. On one occasion the senior fire officer who attended the fire, indicated that had the fire been left another five minutes then the large trucking business would have been faced with major losses.

To see a summmary of statistics for 1998-99 year click HERE

The end result
So how effective are Community Watches in their Communities? This is not always measurable. Our local police indicate that our efforts are proving worthwhile. They tell us that some of their "clients" have recognised our presence when planning on committing offences. Hornby Police also advise that information being forwarded to them by the patrollers is proving of value to them in their fight against crime.

Feedback from the community is generally good. Many people give us a friendly wave as we go past, or stop to talk to us when they see us. Those who may have come to our attention for more illicit reasons will sometimes give us the one or two fingered gesture! One patrol was greeted with a couple of "down trous" one night... This job is not for those of a delicate constitution.. The last thing patrollers want to be referred as are "vigilante's", however they are vigilant in their observations.

Community Watch Hornby Inc is one of a number of Community Watch groups covering the Christchurch and surrounding areas. Community Watch Hornby Inc is here to stay for some time yet, so why not support them in their activities."

 

Papanui

The Papanui Community Watch was formed in October 1994. Currently operating with the help of approximately 30 members. The entire Papnui Police district is patrolled at present on a zone system. The area has been divided into 6 zones.

We have been trained in the areas of basic first aid and CPR. In the car we carry fire extinguishers, accident warning signs and first aid kits.

While on patrol we look for taggers, suspicious people or vehicles, stolen vehicles, drivers under the influence of alcohol or people and burglars. Day patrols are also done, at the moment we run the day patrols 2 to 3 days a week but hopefully this will increase to 5 days a week as our membership increases. We do not patrol zones during the day. Pensioner complexes receive a lot of visits and we are recognized as friendly, and often have a chat as we drive through. School crossing patrols are done as weather and time permits the general feedback indicates the presence of the patrol members standing on each side of the road slows traffic down.

We have just been given a second car which will be equipped the same as our present car. We hope to have it on patrol very soon. We always patrol with two people, two ladies are not permitted to do night patrols but will sometimes do a day patrol. For communications we have a cell phone in the car as well as a Police radio which makes our patrols more efficient and safe, as we know where an armed incident is and we can avoid driving into a scene.

If you wish join or contact the Papnui Community Watch please call the Papnui Police by phoning (03) 3793999

 

City to Sumner

The City to Sumner Community Watch was founded in August 1998 with the objective of assisting the Police in a pro-active policy with a view to reducing petty crimes in the designated areas and to enhance Police/community co-operation towards a safer community.

With the close liaison with the Police we have been able to target specific problem areas i.e. stolen vehicles, schools, factories and graffiti. We have been responsible for a number of stolen vehicles being returned and have had a good response from the residents in our area.

We operate two vehicles, number one car operates the Woolston, Linwood area and number two car operates from Ferrymead through to Sumner, Taylors Mistake and all the hill suburbs. Sponsorship was obtained for both vehicles, Ray White Priers Bayside in Redcliffs purchased the first vehicle for our use and finance was obtained from the Regional Council to purchase our second vehicle.

We have a membership of over 84 members operating the two vehicles from Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and one of the vehicles is used during the day from Wednesday through to Friday. Two volunteer drivers are used when on patrol for a minimum of four hours. The elected committee meets every second Tuesday monthly, general meetings for all members are held quarterly where guest speakers are introduced. Roasted lists are posted with a covering newsletter every two monthly cycle to all members.

 

Christchurch South

The Sydenham Police District loosely covers the Heathcote and Spreydon Wards in Christchurch. This District is covered by approximately 50 sworn police staffs, who are assisted by over 50 civilian volunteers.

The largest group of volunteers assisting Sydenham Police are the Christchurch South Community Watch Inc. This group of volunteers usually numbers between 40 and 50 members.

The Community Watch patrol the Sydenham Police district day and night in a vehicle sponsored for the purpose by AMI Insurance. They act as the eyes and ears of the police, not becoming involved in incidents, but reporting any matter of interest to Police for investigation.

During the 5 years the Community Watch has been in existence this has proven to be successful with the members locating on average 200 stolen cars per year, and several criminals being charged and convicted as a result of Community Watch intervention. The Community Watch Committee meet once a month at the Sydenham Police Station where they liase with the Community Constables from the Addington, Cashmere and St Martians areas. Targets and patrol areas are provided by the Police from their Intel system.

Training days are held several times per year for all members.

New volunteers are always welcome in assisting Sydenham Police. Volunteer application forms are available from the Sydenham Police Station, 15 Stanley Street Christchurch.

 Community Watch Riccarton INC

Community Watch Riccarton Inc was formed in early 2000 by a group of concerned citizens who were disturbed at the increasing crime rate in greater Riccarton, and were willing to do something about it.

Fortunately, because some of our founding members were experienced patrollers from other areas of Christchurch it was possible to virtually commence patrolling once the necessary equipment and sponsorships were obtained. Businesses in Riccarton were very quick to realise the importance of the formation of the watch, and without hesitation, the vast majority of those approached agreed to sponsor the watch either with funds or goods.

Volunteers to crew the Watch vehicle were recruited within a short period, and operations were commenced on 19 April 2000. In the first twelve months, patrols were out almost every evening (some until early morning), and most afternoons. Feedback which we have received from residents and businesses has without exception been positive and most encouraging.

All our drivers have undergone or are about to undergo first aid and defensive driving courses paid for by the watch. This helps ensure that all members are as fully equipped as possible to carry out their duties.

In the first week of August 2001, we installed a GPS tracking system in our vehicle. We believe that this is the first such installation of such equipment in a Community Watch vehicle in New Zealand. This equipment can only enhance our patrollers safety, and the operational efficiency of our Watch.

As with most volunteer organisations, we are always seeking new members. If you are interested in finding out more about Community Watches, please contact your local Community Constable, or click on riccomwatch@netaccess.co.nz.