Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner funds Online Watch Link for next year

Owl is a National Neighbourhood Watch initiative and is supported by a number of Police Forces throughout the UK.

The system enables police officers, residents, co-ordinators and organisations/businesses to easily communicate with Neighbourhood Watch schemes and vice versa.

The funding for the next year, which totals over £30,000, includes the annual license fee, and service support for the initiative. Over 22,000 residents are now signed up to the initiative in Gwent. OWL enables each Watch to manage themselves online with easy to use management and communication tools and allows users to choose the best format to receive messages- via phone, email, fax and text which can be sent to individual addresses, streets, watches, areas, wards, towns or watch schemes.

When residents sign up to OWL they automatically become members of their local Neighbourhood Watch and can choose to sign up as a member or become a co-ordinator for their street. Residents should log on frequently to www.owl.co.uk to gain the most benefit from the initiative.

Other benefits of the system include a "Fix my Street" application that allows watch members to easily report problems such as broken street lights to local councils, the most recent reports submitted to their council are displayed with a map showing the exact location of the problem.

The system compliments and builds on existing crime maps provided by Gwent Police using the latest official crime data to provide a visual comparison of crime across districts putting local data into context.

Lists of local contacts that may be required after an incident are also listed on the website.

Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston said: "OWL is fantastic initiative that is managed by residents for the good of their own neighbourhoods and communities. It enables them to receive and share information about what matters to them in the way they choose. Owl is an efficient and valuable tool to prevent and deter crime and reduce incidents of anti social behaviour as well as reassuring residents. Its a great example of police working with partners and members of the community to achieve a common goal - to make Gwent a safe place."

Ken Oliphant, Chairman of Gwent Neighbourhood Watch Association said: "Neighbourhood Watch is an active organisation trying to make Gwent a better place to live, our Owl system is one of the initiatives which enables better communication between members and our partners, as well as Farm Watch and Shop Watch.

"We are very grateful for the help and support from Gwent Police, with their help we have significantly increased our membership and we are now looking at getting 30 000 more people on the system. I would like to thank all those making the system work, it is making a difference."