NEIGHBOURHOOD Watch schemes could be revived in a bid to tackle crime in the Musselburgh area.

A joint initiative has been launched by PC Kevin Hughes, of the Musselburgh Community Policing Team (CPT), and Kathryn Shanks, from Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, in a bid to restart groups which have fallen by the wayside or create new groups

Neighbourhood Watch schemes have been active since the 1980s and have been proven to work “very well”.

Police said that residents might well be in an “unofficial” scheme without realising it. This could take the form of private ‘residents only’ social media pages or WhatsApp groups used for exchanging information about incidents which had occurred in their local area such as housebreakings, stolen bikes or suspicious people.

Neighbourhood Watch is a “more formal and organised way” to share information, tackle community issues and liaise with local police, they explained.

At present, there are six Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the Musselburgh area including Riverside Gardens, Mucklets, Windsor Gardens and Almond Park, and the villages of Inveresk and Whitecraig.

Mrs Shanks, a watch coordinator at Inveresk, said: “A clear line of communication between local communities and community police officers is invaluable to both parties. Sharing information helps prevent crime and keep communities safe.

“As a watch coordinator, I am lucky enough to have the support of the community team at Musselburgh.

“Neighbourhood Watch Scotland strives to harness community spirit and forge strong relations with Police Scotland to enable the sharing of information quickly and to reduce crime, creating a safer place to live.

“It is a national organisation helping at a local level. It will help you set up a watch that suits your community and support you throughout, Your Watch, Your Way. Police Scotland’s support is invaluable to this network.”

Organisers will receive help from Neighbourhood Watch Scotland to set up schemes and additional support is also on hand.

Once registered, the schemes will receive scam alerts, window stickers and boards alerting the public that it is a Neighbourhood Watch area.

Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, said: “Neighbourhood Watch schemes can be very effective in cutting crime within their areas.

“I welcome any initiative to promote and establish such schemes. To be successful, they need active support from residents and also from the police.

“I look forward to hearing positive news on the progress of this development.”

Ward councillor Stuart Currie said: “I very much welcome this proposal.

“Neighbourhood Watch can make a real difference in our communities and I would encourage any residents interested to get more information from the police and consider forming a local team.”

Fellow ward councillor Andy Forrest said: “I have always supported Neighbourhood Watch schemes when they were up and running, and there were loads of them.

“They were fantastic at keeping neighbourhoods safe; for example, if strangers were seen acting suspiciously, people were able to pick up on it and let friends know.

“Neighbourhood Watch schemes are great at giving added safety for young people and also the elderly, giving them a sense of security.”

Ward councillor Katie Mackie said: “I think this is a great idea and would encourage local residents to get involved.”

And ward councillor John Williamson added: “Neighbourhood Watch schemes can help deter vandalism and opportunistic theft from properties in the areas in which they operate, as well identifying community safety issues.

“I would encourage the setting up of such schemes across Musselburgh and hope that enough interested individuals will come forward in response to this worthy police initiative.”

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