Neighbourhood Watch in Hertfordshire got a real life bird to help celebrate 10 years of the crime busting in its partnership with the  Owl system.

Luca Parrella from Celtic Harmony, pictured above with the Owl and NhW Deputy District Co-ordinator Andrew Scarth (right) brought a fun element to a conference at Police Headquarters.

 The conference – held with the theme “celebrate, inform, and inspire” – heard that a quarter of households across Hertfordshire have now signed up to NhW as it celebrates its 10th anniversary in operation – that is more than 110,000 residents who regularly receive messages about local crime, missing people, security advice and other important information at the click of a button thanks to the award winning Online Watch Link (OWL).

 A video showcasing 10 years of Neighbourhood Watch on OWL was produced for the conference and to help recruit additional members – it can be seen at 


 Over 10 years ago, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators would notify their neighbours directly or call one or two telephone numbers on their lists to let them know about crimes alerts in their area.  It was quickly recognised that with growing membership a new more efficient and effective system was needed.  In 2006, the OWL system was introduced and we have seen a gradual increase of NHW membership year on year.  Members of NHW can now receive regular email updates from local policing teams and NHW co-ordinators.   The system is also used by the Police and Crime Commissioner for important ‘calls to action’ and for members’ views on important issues.

Chair of Neighbourhood Watch, Sue Thompson, said: “We are thrilled that a quarter of households across the county are now signed up to NHW.  Our conference celebrated the huge success of the OWL database and messaging system, which has modernised the way we can communicate specifically with residents on a large or small scale.  The residents signed up to NHW are our eyes and ears on the street and we have had dozens of examples where they have called police to a suspicious incident which has resulted in an arrest, charge or conviction.” 

She added: “I would like to thank all the Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators and members for all their work in helping us to keep Hertfordshire a safe place in which to live.”

Creator of OWL and NHW Area Co-ordinator Gary Fenton said: “It’s amazing how it’s grown and grown over the years.  It’s hard to quantify the crimes it’s helped prevent from occurring, but we know of dozens of crimes where suspects have been caught because of the use of OWL, or stolen property recovered or missing children found very quickly. That’s not surprising given how the Constabulary issued over 5,000 alerts in the last 12 months via OWL generating 15 million emails – all targeted to areas where the incidents occurred I must add.” 

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: “OWL and Neighbourhood Watch are the perfect partnership – combining technology with good-old fashioned community spirit, pride in your neighbourhood and a joint commitment to keep them safe and pleasant places to live.  As Commissioner, I have pledged to support volunteering – including Neighbourhood Watch – as one of the best ways to keep communities safe. We all have a part to play and what could be easier than signing up to receive messages, then heed and pass on the advice given.” 

Community Safety Manager Julie Lloyd said: “Safer Neighbourhood teams across the county have done a fantastic job recruiting new members across the county, far exceeding our expectations! I’d encourage anyone not already signed up to do so – it only takes a moment, you don’t have to have an active role, but we will keep you informed about local crimes, as well as new types of crime, such as online scams and cyber-crime, and how you can help to protect yourself.”

To join up, simply log on to http://www.owl.co.uk/ or speak to your local PCSO.

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