Volunteers and police teams across the county have been recognised for their contribution in keeping people safe through the use of OWL (online Watch Link).
Three prestigious awards were given to the winners at the Chief’s Constables awards ceremony.
OWL (opens in a new window) is the online arm of Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) which aims to keep neighbourhoods and communities safer, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and keep residents informed about what’s going on locally.
Broxbourne Safer Neighbourhood Team were the winners of the Annual OWL Trophy 2022-23 for signing up the most OWL members in the last 12 months. They have increased their OWL membership by nearly 2,000 over the last year. That huge increase is mostly down to one person - voluntary Broxbourne Neighbourhood Watch District Co-Ordinator Stewart Sykes. Stewart has made it his personal mission to knock on nearly every door in the district to sign residents up almost daily and as a result has signed up hundreds of new members.
Because of his diligence and hard work, Broxbourne now has over 67% of NHW household coverage. Stewart is also responsible for raising funds and putting up new NHW street signs with NHW members - his ambitious aim is to have one at the start of all streets across the borough of Broxbourne.
He was joined by Broxbourne Chief Inspector Victoria Richards and Safer Neighbourhood Team Inspector Gerry Harrison whose team also sends out local crime prevention messages, for example burglaries, mostly via email to local residents.
The Beacon Victim Service Team received the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Neighbourhood Watch’ for signing up 2,500 members over the last year, helping to keep victims informed and protect them from crime going forwards.
From the winning team, Liz Carey and Peter Howlett-Bolton came up to receive the award, on behalf of the Beacon team.
Volunteer Chris Bakewell received the ‘Exceptional Contribution to Neighbourhood Watch and to the Watch Liaison Team.’ Penelope Knapper, who supports Neighbourhood Watch at Police Headquarters, received the award on his behalf.
Chris has worked every Thursday and Friday in the neighbourhood watch office for over eight years, rarely taking any time off. He insisted on working during COVID-19 and is invaluable in his knowledge and expertise to the Watch Liaison Team and NHW members. Chris walks into work at Police Headquarters across Welwyn Garden City, no matter what the weather is, come rain or snow. He is methodical, reliable and exceptional at problem solving and is an integral part of the watch Liaison Team.
Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “It is great to have presented our inaugural OWL awards. OWL is extremely important to our community engagements, keeping our local communities in the loop. It offers a superb route to seek information about crime, issue witness appeals and to offer information and advice to help residents be less likely to be a victim of crime.
“Thank you to the people who work daily as part of the OWL programme and congratulations to the winners of the first ever awards.”
OWL supports Neighbourhood Watch which celebrated its 40th Anniversary last year.
Nearly 40 per cent of Hertfordshire households – 179,000 residents - across the county are already signed up to OWL – why not join them @ OWL (opens in new window).
Those signed up receive local police news including scams, thefts and burglaries with relevant crime prevention advice as well as information about missing people.
You can also download the ‘OWL crime alerts’ app on your mobile to receive your local police and relevant partner messages with instant notifications for urgent messages. Almost 17,000 residents are already registered.