Four South Korean students travelled over 5,000 miles to find out about Hertfordshire’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

The students, who are studying Political Science and International Studies at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul, wanted to find out about volunteering and community safety.  They investigated community schemes online and came across Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) in Hertfordshire and the Force’s Online Watch Link (OWL) system, which sends messages to residents about crime in their local area.

Vice-chair of Neighbourhood Watch Keith Batchelor said: “They wanted to find out why so many people in Britain volunteer, when in South Korea the aim is to study, find a good job and earn money. They were impressed by our membership figures, which have now reached almost 160,000 households across the county, and were impressed to hear that we had been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service last year.

“We demonstrated the OWL system and explained that targeted messages are sent out regularly on a range of relevant issues including burglaries, thefts from vehicles and missing and wanted people. They noted that simple and relevant crime prevention advice was always included with the messages. Their visit to the Force Control Room, to see where the phone calls from the public are received, left a lasting impression on them.

They also asked lots of questions about how NHW is run in Hertfordshire and were surprised how closely NHW volunteers work with the police to help protect the public and inform them of incidents and ask for their help in solving crime.”

He continued: “We explained the work we have been doing recently with elderly people  and introduced them to the charity bags provided by ‘Small Acts of Kindness’, a local charity who provides free tote bags containing socks, gloves, scarves and a thermal blanket.  We suggested that when they returned to Korea they could work with fellow students and start a similar scheme for their elderly population who reside near the university.  We also discussed with them the possibility of starting another scheme, whereby the students could pass on their IT and social media skills by acting as study-buddies for those residents who needed help to get the most out of their laptops and phones, and how emails could be used to share crime prevention messages quickly.

“Hopefully NHW and other related volunteering schemes will now expand in some way in South Korea. The students really enjoyed their time with us at Police Headquarters and promised to keep us updated with emails containing news of how their ideas had been implemented and the information from their fact-finding visit had been used.  We all hope they achieve top marks in their final degree course.”

On behalf of the group, student Kwon Heui Soo thanked Keith for spending so much time showing them such a variety of aspects of NHW and community volunteering and how they work so closely with the Constabulary.  She said “We have learned so much in just a few hours. We want to try some of the good ideas.

People wishing to join Hertfordshire Neighbourhood Watch should contact their local Watch Liaison Officer or log on to register online

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