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Call for neighbourhood volunteers

Alicia PereraNorth West Telegraph
Neighbourhood Watch.
Camera IconNeighbourhood Watch. Credit: Kalgoorlie Miner

The East Pilbara could become the site of the first Neighbourhood Watch groups in the Pilbara pending a probable pilot of the program in Newman in coming months.

On June 30, Shire of East Pilbara councillors passed a motion calling for expressions of interest in Newman, Marble Bar and Nullagine for volunteers to be part of Neighbourhood Watch programs.

Newman police are taking the lead in establishing one of the community-led crime prevention groups, with several of its officers having already put up their hands to be volunteers.

Station officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Mark Fleskens said a lot of Newman residents were interested in community safety and a Neighbourhood Watch group would give them a role.

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“In some ways it has the old-school country mentality that we should all be looking out for each other,” he said of the program.

“It’s about sharing information with the community but also gathering information from (them).

“I think it ties the community together and allows (them) to feel positive that there are community members involved in the wellbeing of the town.”

Sen. Sgt Fleskens said the idea was “still in its infancy” and depended on the level of community interest shown during the expression of interest process, but would have support from police and Neighbourhood Watch WA.

Pilbara police sub-district stations are part of the online-only eWatch program which is part of Neighbourhood Watch WA, but there is no community volunteer group operating in the region.

Neighbourhood Watch WA State director Bernie Durkin said he would welcome the program starting in the East Pilbara.

“As the State Director of NHW in WA I am very pleased that Senior Sergeant Mark Fleskens from Newman Police is looking at introducing NHW into his police subdistrict,” he said.

“NHW has evolved since it was introduced in WA way back in 1982 and we have moved to a back to basics approach... (of) people looking out for each other in their local community and the promotion of reporting criminal or suspicious activity.”

Shire of East Pilbara president Lynne Craigie said Newman was likely to be the first Neighbourhood Watch group to be established before it was rolled out to other local towns.

“It is expected that Newman would be the pilot for the program. Once this has been established then it is expected that Nullagine and Marble Bar would follow,” she said.

“Once these groups are established we can then look at reaching out to smaller communities within the Shire to encourage them in participation and support the message “it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t”.

The Shire’s community safety team will issue public notices in coming weeks. For more information or to lodge an expression of interest, call the Shire on 9175 8000.

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