We are very fortunate that our NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH GROUP covers the whole village. But how did it all begin?
In the Lakes estate --- Windermere Road to be precise.
Rod Soars was gardening when two uniformed policemen walked by on patrol---a rare sight. They stopped and chatted about Neighbourhood Watch ideas. Rod leafleted the estate and organised a meeting at the Church Rooms. It was packed out --- standing room only. P.C. Parkin and Sgt. Bolton explained the ideas they had in mind and, after lively discussion, the Lakes Neighbourhood Watch was born. Rod and other recruits gradually targeted yet more areas of the village and personal visits by hard-working volunteers brought lots more people into the scheme. The new co-ordinators met monthly and developed contacts in their areas. By December 1993 the complete Barrow-upon-Soar was formed.
The first recorded Neighbourhood Watch activity in England took place in the late nineteenth century in the Whitechapel area of London. Police and public combined to try to solve the Whitechapel murders. This co-operation resulted in the apprehension of Jack the Ripper in 1888.
Neighbourhood Watch as a modern idea began in the village of Mollington in Cheshire in 1982. It was based on ideas from the U.S.A. Leicestershire’s first two groups were formed in the area of Leicester near the football stadium and, more locally, on the Shelthorpe estate in Loughborough. The Loughborough police decided to encourage the spread of Neighbourhood Watch groups in the vicinity. Thus it was, perhaps, in their minds when the two local policemen met Rod Soars in Windermere Avenue. We now have 2,880 schemes in Leicestershire and the organisation continues to expand.
In 1993 Leicestershire Police contacted Barrow Parish Council about a “Rural Initiative” project. The Neighbourhood Watch group was asked by the Parish Council to take on the project. Three villages in Leicestershire took part. A small team, under the leadership of Roger Chappell, put together a Residents’ Questionnaire and Neighbourhood Watch members delivered it. As well as responding to a variety of questions villagers were asked for their own comments. Although most of the residents felt that the village was a safe place to live in, their major concerns were dog fouling and speeding. Better street lighting, reducing traffic, improving the appearance of High Street and North Street, improving sports facilities and increasing open green areas within the village were other issues highlighted
After analysis, the committee made presentations to the Parish Council and to Police Headquarters at Enderby. After lots of lobbying by the team and the Parish Council the traffic calming scheme for Sileby Road, already drawn up by the Highways Department but unlikely to be implemented for years, suddenly leapt up the priority list and was put in place.
It was felt that this Rural Initiative had a limited success as none of the promised funding materialised for other projects. However, in recent years the Barrow Development Agency, working with the Parish Council, has continued the good work of following up the findings of the Questionnaire and gradually some results are being achieved.
A breakthrough in communications occurred in 1994 when the Neighbourhood Watch monthly leaflet produced by P.C. Morris from local crime statistics began to attract sponsorship. The 15 coordinators collect the leaflets at their monthly briefing meeting and through their contact groups the leaflets are delivered monthly to every household in Barrow-upon-Soar. We have a new Neighbourhood Watch logo for the millenium – ideas for layout and content of our leaflets are always welcome.
Some of the crime prevention projects undertaken by Barrow Neighbourhood Watch include the free provision and fitting of door safety chains to the property of the elderly and vulnerable in the village - more than 60 have now been fitted – and post coding bicycles brought to special sessions set up in the village for this purposes. Primary children have responded enthusiastically to poster competitions on safety and crime prevention themes. Prizes – of course!
The village road signs at each entrance to the village – asking for slower driving – were organised by the Neighbourhood Watch and sponsorship received from local business.
A “Walled Gardens” Open Day gave us much needed funds and was enjoyed by many villagers. We have also had fund raising quizzes. A building society windfall made it possible for us to buy a mobile CCTV camera in 1998. It has already been in use in several parts of the village in response to local need. Do you need it in your area? Contact us, in confidence, if you feel we can help you. (Perhaps catch dog fouling in the act? - a fairly disgusting thought but it could lead to prosecution! Charnwood Borough Council would be very interested in proof of flouting of bye-laws.)
As we are a constantly evolving organisation we always need and welcome new contact people and co-ordinators as existing people either move house or their responsibilities and available time change. If you have a spare 15 minutes a month to be a contact person delivering to a few of your neighbouring houses, or if you have time for a monthly meeting and giving out leaflets to contact persons in your area, let us know. New to the village? An easy way to get to know your neighbours. If unsure, just turn up to one of our informal and informative meetings. Details are always in your monthly Neighbourhood Watch leaflet.
What will the needs of the village be during the next few years? It is your Neighbourhood Watch; we hope that, with your help, it will be even more relevant to village life in the future. We have had a varied and encouraging first few years. Let’s hope your good ideas will help us to keep Barrow a safe and friendly place to live in during the next millenium.