Wise up to online Welwyn Hatfield neighbourhood watch scheme

RESIDENTS are being urged to sign up to an innovative online database that allows the public to keep an eye on crime in their area, writes Ross Logan.

The Online Watch Link (OWL) allows users to view police updates and crime alerts via email or telephone. It provides a platform for local residents to report suspicious activity and links direct with the police and Neighbourhood Watch.

Invented in 2006 by Woolmer Green man Gary Fenton, the system has proved a huge success, and has since been adopted by Hertfordshire Constabulary, Staffordshire Police and North Wales Police.

“Like a lot of good ideas, it happened by accident,” said Gary, 37. “I volunteered to become a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, and everything was done on paper; it was very draconian.

“I thought I’d put everything on an access database, but then I thought: ‘Why can’t everyone get access?’”


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“It was a natural progression, it evolved within months. Hertfordshire Constabulary were looking for a new system and they thought they’d go for it. Herts police have very much taken a lead on this.”

The OWL system has also received the backing of Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who said: “It’s like Neighbourhood Watch with a modern twist.

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“This is a great way to make Welwyn Hatfield residents feel safer, and can really help raise community spirit.

“The OWL system is a convenient way for residents to stay united against crime and anti-social behaviour. Neighbours can be brought closer together through technology and can collectively become more vigilant about crime. It’s a very modern way to run Neighbourhood Watch.”

To sign up to OWL, visit www.owl.co.uk Alternatively, call Christel Anslow, Welwyn Hatfield watch liaison officer, on 01707 806801 if you wish to be added to OWL. Joining is free and you can be taken off of the list whenever you like.

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