Citizens urged to play a role in crime prevention

A program that puts crime prevention into the hands of neighbours is picking up steam in Trail.

A program that puts crime prevention into the hands of neighbours is picking up steam in Trail.

Sunningdale is the only neighbourhood that currently takes part in the Block Watch program, which gives residents the means to take responsibility for their own safety by reducing the opportunity for crime. But crime prevention officer Gordon Sims is hoping other neighbourhoods are interested in taking a stand.

“The program itself certainly has a proactive element to it in stopping crimes from occurring in a particular area,” he said. “One thing you’ll find with the Block Watch program is that just because of the nature of the beast, the neighbours get to know each other a little better.”

Monica Averill, Sunningdale area coordinator, said the line of communication has opened up between her neighbours since the local reporting network started up in 2005 by George Braithwaite, former crime prevention officer.

Depending on the size of the neighbourhood, blocks are separated and led by captains, who report to their area coordinator. The group works with Sims, who provides tips like how to spot unusual behavior.

“It’s really about watching out for your neighbours and watching out for your neighbourhood and keeping an eye on any unusual activity that could help with crime prevention,” said Averill. “I’m definitely more aware of what’s going on in the neighbourhood now and I’m definitely more aware of who my neighbours are.”

The program that started in B.C. in 1986 was modeled after a similar project in Seattle, which was effective in reducing residential break and enters by 60 per cent.

Block Watch fights the isolation and separation that crime creates and feeds upon, it forges bonds among area residents and businesses, helps reduce burglaries and other crime, and improves relations between the police and the community they serve.

Sims is hosting an informative session on Block Watch Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Trail Memorial Centre.

The meeting will be a chance to gather interest to create other potential programs in the city but will also benefit those just looking for tips on securing their own home.

Those interested should sign up for the meeting by calling the Trail Aquatic and Leaisure Centre at 364-1262.