How you can help keep your community safe

Inspector David Shaw

Inspector David Shaw

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I would like to start my first column this year by wishing all the residents of the Valley a Happy New Year.

In this column I want to tell you about and encourage you to get involved with a new initiative that the Calderdale District is launching very shortly. It is called OWL.

OWL (Online Watch Link) keeps communities safe, helps reduce crime and keeps people informed of what’s going on locally.

OWL is simply a means of passing information to you more easily and more quickly than ever before.

OWL is the interactive Online Watch Link and has been developed across various parts of Wales and England over the past few years.

It operates by helping communities prevent and detect crime, support one another and be more aware of what is going on in their communities.

West Yorkshire Police has chosen OWL as the force’s method to contact residents.

The aim of a Neighbourhood Police Team (NPT) is to break down barriers between the police and our communities and I feel that the introduction of OWL will assist the local officers to collate information and intelligence from members of the public that police officers can then act upon. They do say “actions speak louder than words”.

OWL or NHW ? I want to stress that OWL is not replacing NHW (Neighbourhood Watch) but far from it. It is enhancing the scheme and will hopefully attract more younger people to it as IT solutions are second nature to most of them.

The ethos behind what Neighbourhood Watch stands for hasn’t changed - people helping each other. The new facility provided via OWL enables neighbours and others to better look out for one another by making the process quicker, more direct and able to ensure that the information gets to the right people

Using modern technology and communication makes life easier and simpler for all involved; as it is interactive it will allow you to send any messages back just as easily.

Messages, including crime alerts and timely crime prevention advice, are sent out by the OWL administrator to OWL users, Neighbourhood Watch members, in an instant, sometimes within half an hour of a crime occurring.

The system allows messages to be received by telephone, fax, email, mobile phone, flyers or letter so people who do not have access to the internet do not miss out on OWL. It is a highly effective and efficient way to get important information out.

The scheme is free to join and there are no costs to you the resident for joining OWL. Your details will be held on a secure database used only in connection with OWL, and will not be passed to any other party.

You don’t have to be a member of a NHW group to join OWL. Just register and receive the updates.

This system allows crime alerts to be shared across the divisional and force borders. People are encouraged to record observations online, no matter how trivial it may seem at times, as OWL provides searchable intelligence to the police.

People are able to update their own contact details from the comfort of their home computer and choose how they want to be contacted to receive messages, and even when they want to receive their messages.

Watch co-ordinators are able to communicate directly with their members. Those without internet access are not excluded from the benefits of OWL, as messages can be sent by phone, fax, text and post to co-ordinators, provided their contact details are registered on OWL.

If you wish to be involved with OWL, then please contact us at cd.owl@westyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

By Inspector David Shaw, Valley Neighbourhood Policing Team