community

Your Watch Your Way

I am aware of ongoing problems and serious community safety concerns at Glenfuir and Greenbank Courts and that this has been reflected within recent articles published in the Falkirk Herald. These matters have also been raised with me through the Safer Streets roadshow held back in October and since then I have met with other stakeholders and been in contact with the  elected members for that Ward. One of the partners in the Safer Streets Initiative are Neighbourhood Watch Scotland and I have through discussions with them now raised the prospect of establishing a Watch in the first instance specifically for both these Courts. This of course is dependent upon the willingness and commitment of local tenants and the relevant partner agencies and organisations and from my recent meetings and discussions this has received a positive response. I thought therefore it was  worthwhile focusing this week’s blog upon some of  the key facets of the new modern Neighbourhood Watch in Scotland. People can then consider if this would be an appropriate means to address some of the issues and concerns  experienced by the tenants at this location.

Signage around the community is a key part of any Neighbourhood Watch

Getting involved with Neighbourhood Watch (NW) in your area can be a great way to help keep your community safe. It’s not all about crime these days; it’s about safety, there are perhaps some negative perceptions of what a Watch is for and how it operates, the days of the curtain twitchers and local bissy bodies are no longer in any way relevant .A scheme can generally be of any size.  It can be a whole street, one side of the street, one half of the street, a cul-de-sac, a few cottages, a whole block of flats.  The scheme should be of a size that is easy to manage.  It’s often best to start smaller and then expand.  

The ethos of the modern Watch is about looking out for each other and therefore working together in a positive neighbourly way. The ongoing COVID pandemic illustrated, especially back in the full lockdown, how communities could come together to help and support each other, to look out for each other and protect the most vulnerable within our communities. This is the spirit and the approach of the modern NW, and this approach could be a significant positive step for tenants in Glenfuir and Greenbank Courts feeling safer and better supported.  The Watch then is about values and not structures, it doesn’t need to operate with a structured committee or be formalised with monthly meetings, rather it can be informal , online  or using social media in fact their strap line of Your Watch Your Way is about setting something  up that works effectively for the people involved and not about a one size fits all template. A key outcome of the local community safety strategy was to establish a community safety forum for Camelon and Tamfourhill , however it could be that a local Neighbourhood watch and such a forum could be one in the same thing and operate towards the same aims and purposes. Having your own very localised Neighbourhood Watch can give a community a collective voice, it can be much better than individuals being upset and isolated and  perhaps complaining about things but never getting an effective response. To the contrary  a group of empowered people can be much better able to take effective collective action and without fear or worry about consequences and your collective voice greatly improves the likelihood of being listened too. When the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour see collective action being taken and consequences arising from their behaviour then there is likely to be a reduction in these negative events and the power of the community becomes far more significant and a positive force for change and good.

It is important that the people who are part of a Neighbourhood Watch understand what it is about and what role they are expected to play. It’s best if this is clear from the outset. It’s also great if you can involve everyone in deciding how the NW will work and what its purpose is. My plan therefore is to set up an initial partners meeting in the next few weeks, and I will invite the national NW Co-ordinator along with the Community Police, elected members, Fire Service, officers from Falkirk Council ,some of the local voluntary organisations and those tenants and local people who have already expressed an interest with getting involved with this initiative. All these partners bring expertise and experiences to the table,  and they also have the capacity to respond to the tenants community safety priorities and work together to make effective joined up responses. However, the key to this is the local tenants in these two courts and this is about their NW.  I will hold an open public meeting shortly after the initial partners meeting so we can ascertain the level of support and confirm that this would be an appropriate and supported course of action for Glenfuir and Greenbank Courts. There is a key set of questions that local tenants will need to answer:

Why do we wish to set up a NW scheme in the area?

What are the aims of our NW scheme?

What are our local concerns?

What can we do to address these concerns?

Who will we need to work with/what help do we need?

How can we all contribute to making our community safer?

Going through this process in a public open meeting will enable an agreed vision for the NW to be confirmed  and most importantly reach an agreement on local concerns and priorities and identify the required activities to address these concerns and priorities.

Finally, I want to highlight one particular aspect to the modern NW, that is their Neighbourhood alerts system. This operates in any way that works for local people and you don’t need to be  a member of a Watch to get this very localised information service.  The alert system can be targeted at a row of houses, a street, a few floors in  a high rise flat and can pass on relevant credible information about a particular incident or community safety situations being made aware to all the registered tenants. This could for example alert people to scams and doorstep fraudsters operating in their street, to incidents of vandalism happening in your Court and to any public health concerns or issues communicated directly to you on your mobile phone. You can find out more about this directly from this link:

When I read this message yesterday, I got up and looked out of my window and I could imagine others doing the same, all over our area. It made me feel part of the community. Then when the 2nd message arrived, I was really happy, and felt that I’d been part of something really great. I think this initiative is a powerful tool for good and many people will be blessed by it. Keep up the good work, and thank you! (Local person who uses the NW alert system)

I will off course keep everybody updated with progress and developments on this website and through the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill social media platforms. The Neighbourhood Watch Scotland website can be found here:

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