The Canal & River Trust and West Midlands Police have joined forces to launch a new neighbourhood watch scheme on the region’s historic canal network.
With more and more people working and living by the water, the Canal Watch scheme aims to promote a sense of community and encourage people to help ensure waterways remain safe and enjoyable places.
Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the Canal & River Trust’s West Midlands Waterways Partnership, explains; “One of the attractions of our wonderful waterways is that they’re quiet, tranquil places where you can escape the bustle of everyday life. However while we want people to enjoy the peace we don’t want them to feel isolated or vulnerable and that’s where this scheme comes in. We want to address any misconceptions and reassure people that our waterways are safe and welcoming.
“With Canal Watch we want to make the fantastic sense of community that already exists on our waterways more visible. We want to show people that collectively those living and working on the waterways, the local police and other stakeholder groups are working together to share information and keep people and property safe.”
Under the scheme people living by the water, boaters and waterside businesses can sign up for police updates and free crime prevention advice.
Local community groups, businesses and organisations will also be encouraged to build closer links with each other and work together to make sure the waterways remain welcoming places. As well as receiving information people will be encouraged to report and share any suspicious activity so that action can be taken.
Leaflets and stickers will be distributed to local people, boaters and businesses with signage also being displayed across the region’s waterways. Forensic marking kits will also be handed out to boaters enabling their valuables to be traced if needed.
Inspector Imran Mirza said: “The Canal Watch scheme is a free initiative where West Midlands Police will work with various partner agencies across the region to promote safety and send key messages through the WMNow community messaging system. This will help boaters to keep their marine equipment secure and ensure that their journey across the waterways is as safe as possible.
“The scheme isn’t just focussed on boaters however, WMNow will ensure that anyone living or working beside the water is kept up to date and informed.
“By working together and communicating with each other better we can deal with the issues focusing on long term problem solving but also promoting early intervention and prevention.”
A Canal Watch option has been added to WMNow, the new West Midlands Police messaging tool that allows communities to be kept up to date with what is happening in their areas.
The scheme is initially being rolled out in the West Midlands Police region but it is hoped that it could also be introduced in other parts of the country.
To receive messages and crime prevention information, create an account at www.wmnow.co.uk.