Page 824 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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Of course community policing depends on a robust network of Neighbourhood Watch committees, which brings me to my next point which is that it is, therefore, very important that the government needs to step in and help rebuild the Neighbourhood Watch network. More funding needs to be put in. I would like to question whether the funding has dropped off within the last couple of years. There is a question that perhaps the money has dropped away. I am afraid to say that, without sufficient funding being put in by government, we are not going to be able to maintain that enthusiasm, because volunteers only go a certain way. They need their operating costs paid for.

Certainly the police need to have the resources to be able to provide more police in liaison roles with Neighbourhood Watch committees. So the twin concern here of enough police numbers out there to form community policing presences and government funding to provide encouragement to suburban communities to establish, regenerate, start up or to keep going Neighbourhood Watch committees is important. And I would call upon the government to have a good, hard look at this.

I hope that that is done and I wish the Isaacs Neighbourhood Watch committee and all the other Neighbourhood Watch committees that are struggling all the best. It is very important that we get them active. It is very important that community policing, on the other side of the balance sheet, is also given the resources to be able to carry out preventative policing. Neighbourhood Watch committees can be the eyes and the ears of a community policing presence. Community policing means the collection and collation of community-based intelligence. All of this goes towards preventing crime, which surely must be our aim.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.35): I echo members’ congratulations to the Isaacs Neighbourhood Watch. Mr Pratt touched on a very important issue—in fact, several important issues. Neighbourhood Watch does operate at its optimum when the police are able to put in the resources to assist it, the volunteers are there, the support is there for the volunteers and basically the money is there to ensure that the organisation—and I think we have several dozen Neighbourhood Watches, as I understand, in Canberra—operates effectively. At one stage I think it was up to about 60 or so. Certainly there have been problems in recent years. But the more zones that operate, the better it is. I actually live in a zone that is not covered by Neighbourhood Watch, which I find a bit of a shame, but I have gone to quite a few Neighbourhood Watch meetings.

Mr Speaker, in terms of the financing, Neighbourhood Watch at times has had some good sponsorship. But it is one of the most deserving organisations for government support. Government funds a plethora of organisations. I am sure there are quite a number that are probably, whilst deserving, perhaps far less so in the great scheme of things than a group like Neighbourhood Watch, which really is a very important crime detection and indeed crime prevention program. If it operates properly, it really does have the effect of deterring criminals. If it operates properly, criminals actually will be fingered. It is the eyes and ears of the community. Indeed, that assists the police in actually catching them.

Neighbourhood Watch does not need much money. Back in, I think it was, December 2000 they were going through a bit of a crisis. I can recall they got some money from the then government through community services. I think one of my last acts as community

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