The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) hosted its first ever Crime Prevention Workshop for Neighbourhood Watch Groups in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The workshop which was sponsored by GUARDSMAN, SVG Limited and the Insurance Brokers convened on September 3-4, 2019 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Room under the theme “Partnering with and Empowering Neighbourhood Watch Groups to function effectively”.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony on Tuesday September 3, 2019, coordinator of the workshop, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Junior Simmons told the participants that the hosting of such a workshop is testament of the RSVGPF commitment in engaging community members in meaningful activities not only to improve their personal safety, but that of the entire country. ASP Simmons encouraged residents who have not yet formed a Watch Group to do so because it is one of the ways in which people can make their communities safer. He gave the assurance that the RSVGPF is ready to offer any assistance possible to such persons.
ASP Simmons impressed upon the participants to use the information received to make a positive impact in their communities and to use the workshop to network with members of other Neighbourhood watch groups.
In delivering brief remarks at the opening ceremony, Mr. Tariq Roberts, Electronic Manager at GUARDSMAN (SVG) LTD said that GUARDSMAN is delighted that the RSVGPF took the decision to engage communities in this way. Mr. Roberts informed the participants that security is not just the responsibility of the police or private security firms like GUARDSMAN, but communities also must play an active role as well.
He told the audience that it was his hope that after the workshop has concluded that the participants would be able to use the knowledge, resources and tools gained to make their respective communities safer. The electronic security manager reminded everyone that security is not only about having a police or security presence, or installing CCTV or alarms systems to protect oneself from would-be criminals. He pointed out that we are currently in the hurricane season and measures must be put in place to mitigate not just against human element but nature as well.
Mr. Paul Seale, Director at the Insurance Brokers Limited stated that his company was happy to be an active partner in what he described as a ‘valuable’ workshop. Mr. Seale noted that Neighbourhood Watches are all about risk management and that the Insurance Brokers has been involved in risk management since September 14, 1990 – almost twenty-nine (29) years ago.
According to Mr. Seale, the genesis of the Insurance Brokers started with a need, which was then and still is today, to assist the Vincentian public with independent insurance advice. He said that persons are amazed to learn that the Insurance Brokers does not charge any fees and this has allowed the company to be totally honest and transparent in delivering its service to its customers.
Mr. Seale made it clear to the audience that the Insurance Brokers does not sell insurance – but buy it in-line with the needs of its customers.
The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Richard Browne, Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibilities for Crime. He informed the participants that one of the ways in which the Police Force achieve its mission is by fostering better police/public relationship through civic and other community groups. He disclosed that Neighbourhood Watch Groups forms part of the RSVGPF thrust in community policing strategy.
In echoing Sir Robert Peel’s “the police are the public and the public are the police”, ACP Browne reminded the audience that the police alone cannot fight crime effectively and therefore needs partners to do so. He stated that the police have found one such partner in Neighbourhood Watch Groups.
The keynote speaker stated that the community expects watch groups to be strong, well organized and properly managed in order to help safeguard the communities in which they operate. ACP Browne pointed out to the participants that some of the objectives of a Neighbourhood Watch Group are to:
- Help residents protect themselves and their properties
- Reduce the fear of crime and improve their local environment by:
- Improve home security
- Greater vigilance
- Fostering a community spirit; and
- Improving the environment in the community
In closing, ACP Browne warned that Neighbourhood Watch Groups are not “vigilante” groups. He cautioned the group’s members not to take matters into their own hands if and when their life or property is violated. He advised them to report all matters to the police so that the necessary action can be taken.
A total of twelve topics were covered during the workshop which included: –
- Neighbourhood Watch: What you need to know
- Insurance and You: Risky Business
- Identification of Illegal drugs
- Understanding human trafficking
- Crime Prevention: Tips and Strategies
- Fire Detection and Prevention
- Home Security Management and Monitoring
- Expanding our watch to virtual communities (Cyber Monitoring)
- Understanding domestic Violence – The Role of the Police
- Sexual offences – Let’s put a halt to all sexual assaults
- Safety at Sea
- Road safety and traffic regulations