Control room for watch groups at station

Boston Neighbourhood Watch member Michael Stander

Bellville’s police chief has backed a plan to set up a neighbourhood-watch control room at the charge office.

Boston Neighbourhood Watch’s Michael Stander outlined the plan at Bellville Community Police Forum’s (BCPF) meeting on Thursday November 16.

A watch volunteer would be posted in the control room, giving watches in the precinct a direct link to the police.

Mr Stander said the police had sometimes reacted slowly to reports from watch members.

“Members are left not knowing if their messages were read or if the incident is receiving attention,” he said.

But a volunteer in the control room could acknowledge watch and city improvement district (CID) incident reports immediately and help to arrange back-up or feedback.

The plan, said Mr Stander, would give the watches and CIDs “a voice in the charge office”, leading to better teamwork between them and the police.

Mr Stander said the control room would have a shift manager and 12-hour shift rotations. The plan would need volunteers as well as computer tablets, police radios, money to buy data and space for the control room.

Tommy van Zyl, of Oakdale Watch, welcomed the idea, but said other neighbourhood watches in the CPF would have to support it.

Bellville station commander Brigadier André van Dyk said he wanted to get the project running as soon as possible. “We are really serious about improving our services,” he said.

Brigadier van Dyk said that during the festive season, an extra shift of support-service members would help in the charge office and a 12-member reaction squad would tackle major crimes.