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A scheme which encourages residents to keep an eye on their local school has been launched in Conwy. With the Conwy and Denbighshire Community Safety Partnership, the School Watch initiative aims to get parents, residents, and teachers as well as the emergency services and the local authorities, working together to keep schools and the immediate surrounding area safe and free from crime and anti-social behaviour.
Primary school pupils at Ysgol Porth y Felin in Conwy met with officers from the local neighbourhood policing team, Community Safety, Arson Reduction Team, the Fire and Rescue Service and the Education Department of Conwy County Borough Council. Community Safety Officer Ifan Hughes said: “With schools about to close over the summer holidays we are urging members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour they see around school premises.
“Previously there have been incidents where school buildings have been subject to vandalism and graffiti. We are simply asking people who live near a school to be extra vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to officers.”
He added: “This is the eighth year that we have been running this initiative, and we have seen a drop in the number of problems being reported, however we are not complacent. This is something that we can all get involved with. If you live near a school, or live in a house that overlooks a school, or even if you walk or drive past a school, then you can help.”
Tom Pye, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service Partnership Manager for Conwy and Denbighshire said: “Historically, schools have suffered from incidents such as deliberate fires and vandalism and this partnership approach aims to tackle the problems before they occur.”
Mr Dilwyn Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Porth y Felin said: “This is something which we welcome. Schools are particularly vulnerable during the holiday period, so the more we can work with parents and other members of the community to try and prevent criminal damage to the school, the less likely the possibility of any disruption to the children and their education.”
Signs, which have been funded by the Arson Reduction Team, will be placed on school railings and gates and over 8,000 leaflets and posters have also been distributed throughout Conwy and Denbighshire. The initiative will be rolled out to other areas of the North Wales Police force over the next two weeks.
Firefighters returning from call outs will also keep an eye on school buildings whilst on their way back to their respective stations as will the North Wales Police helicopter.
And meanwhile NFU Cymru and North Wales Police have teamed up to tackle crime against farms in rural north Gwynedd. Using an already known scheme “OWL” – an On-line Watch Link, NFU Cymru and local police hope to create a network of local farms.
Local PCSO Ian Rooksby said: “It’s all about local farmers communicating with each other and with the police at the time they have concerns and for the timely sharing of any suspicious activity or individuals in their area. It has proved a great success in other areas and I have no doubt if we can get the community involved it will be a success here too.”
The scheme, free to join, depends on members having on-line access and signing up to receive and pass on information.
Caernarfon NFU Cymru has provided huge support and guidance to assist the roll out of Farm Watch. Local NFU Cymru Group Secretary Hedd Rhys said: “Anything that can help protect and better inform our farming communities has the full support of NFU Cymru and I would strongly urge all our members in the area to sign up. Several farms have already indicated their willingness to do so. We aim to get over 150 farms to take up the scheme which is to be launched at the Caernarfon Show on Saturday, 7 July 2012.
“As part of the launch NFU Cymru jointly with North Wales Police will distribute a number of High Visibility Farm Watch signs in the area showing participation in the scheme as well as warning would be thieves they are being watched.”