It’s fair to say that Fairfield is an amazing place to live. We are a diverse community with many of us choosing to live here because it feels safe – to bring up children, retire or start out in your first home. One of the special things that bonds us is how supportive we all are towards one another.
Recently the community spirit has been put to the test with residents noticing more anti-social behaviour and criminal incidents than usual during October and November. This prompted some concerned residents to form a Neighbourhood Watch Group to increase communication and work to keep each other and property safe.
Statistically, Fairfield is a very safe place to live, with 69 criminal incidents recorded between January and September of this year*. More than a third of these were anti-social behaviour (26), compared to burglaries (4) or thefts (3).
In under a week, the Neighbourhood Watch Group had more than 500 residents signed up to its Facebook page. This crucial online hub allows neighbours to alert each other to suspicious activity, receive security advice or recommendations and work together to prevent crime in our area from increasing.
The Group also approached Fairfield Parish Council (FPC), who have agreed to form a working group to take forward the various proposals presented on behalf of residents. The Group has established working relationships with Bedfordshire Police, Central Bedfordshire Council and the Fairfield Park Residents Association, all of whom have been hugely supportive. Additionally, the Fairfield Neighbourhood Watch Group has been formally registered with ourwatch.org.uk, which offers access to further advice and support.
To address the recent attempted thefts by unknown individuals in Fairfield short-term, strolls by residents in high-viz jackets have been introduced. These are led by professionally trained volunteers, often in the early hours, as a visual deterrent to would-be criminals. They provide reassurance to residents while a longer-term proposal is discussed with FPC.
Residents who could volunteer a few hours a month to help undertake these ‘strolls’ are urged to get in touch with the Neighbourhood Watch Admin on Facebook or by emailing Fairfieldnwatch@gmail.com. If there is enough support for making this practice permanent, the Group could formally register a ‘Street Watch’ team backed by Bedfordshire Police, who will also offer training and advice.
The combined effect of everyone being alert, more residents calling 101 to report incidents, having a central Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page to share information, and visible strolls by residents has been extremely positive and the increase in incidents noticed by residents in October seems to have been brought under control, which will come as a relief to all.
While we can never be immune from crime, the Fairfield Neighbourhood Watch Group aims to build on this initial positive effect to make a real long-lasting difference to our community, increasing cohesion and connectedness to help us all stay safe. This means putting community wellbeing first, supporting vulnerable people and increasing our voice with Councils, the Police and other organisations. A lot has already been done in only a matter of weeks to ensure Fairfield remains a safe place to live and the Group is busy working so this continues.
Our Top 5 pieces of advice for Fairfield residents based on recent incidents:
1 If you notice any suspicious activity or criminal damage, call 101 to report it – even if you think someone else might have already done so. The Police can build a picture of the severity of a crime based on the number of reports they recieve; more reports will result in more action.
2 In an emergency always call 999.
3 If you have a keyless car, keep your keys in a Faraday box and fit a steering wheel lock.
4 Invest in a security camera, video doorbell or motion-activated light outside your house.
5 With Christmas on the way, keep an eye on parcels being delivered. Ask for deliveries to be made to neighbours rather than left outside. Don’t leave the boxes for high-value items out in the street for collection: this lets would-be thieves know you have something worth breaking in for!
For more advice on how to keep safe, join our Facebook page.
The Fairfield Neighbourhood Watch Group