Everybody Needs Good Neighbours
30th June 2010
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As the theme tune of one of the longest running Aussie soaps says, everybody needs good neighbours. Can you help?

The London Borough of Richmond are looking for community-minded people to join a campaign aimed at reducing theft and distraction burglaries, especially of the elderly and vulnerable.

A network of nominated neighbours in all wards in the borough is now being built up by Operation Lockout after the programme was launched in Fulwell and Hampton Hill.

Older people are vulnerable targets for thieves and con-men, but are often reluctant or too embarrassed to ask for help from their own neighbours. It is hoped the scheme - working closely with the police - will help keep vulnerable people safe from door-step crime and theft within their own communities.

Safer Neighbourhood Teams have just started to visit households looking for people who would be willing to help their older neighbours to avoid being burgled or conned.
Officers are building up a list of the ‘nominated neighbours’, before approaching the elderly, vulnerable or those in need of help who live nearby to suggest they ‘pair up’ so cold callers can be directed straight to the address of a neighbour who is more able to fend off unwanted visitors.

The scheme is already taking off in Fulwell and Hampton Hill, and is being extended throughout the borough, hopefully creating a drop in the number of cold-callers and distraction burglaries taking place.

Elderly or vulnerable residents who join the scheme would be given a card they can hold up to unexpected callers which directs them to a nominated neighbour’s house to explain their business. The neighbour can then check credentials, stop high pressure selling techniques or collect flyers and business cards, giving the opportunity for the person to be contacted if they are providing a genuine business.
Anyone wishing to volunteer their services, or suggest a elderly person who might benefit should contact their local safer neighbourhood team by calling the Metropolitan Police on 0300 123 1212.

Silas Van Der Bas

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Silas Van Der Bas is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.

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