PCC Continues Support for OWL

The Online Watch Link (OWL) system is a Neighbourhood Watch led initiative which sends out targeted messages about crimes and problems to residents who have signed up in communities throughout Gwent.

It enables local police officers, residents and volunteers to easily communicate with each other.

Today, it was announced that funding for the OWL system will continue for another year from this month thanks to a £30,000 investment from Gwent Police Force.

The Commissioner has been a big supporter of the system since being elected into office in 2012. Driven by Neighbourhood Watch, the OWL community has grown from strength to strength in Gwent every year since it was established over six years ago and now contains a total of over 5,500 watches including Farm Watch and Shop Watch. The funding for the next year, which totals over £30,000, includes the annual license fee and service support for the initiative.

The system, which has a dedicated website for Gwent, enables residents to choose how they would like to be communicated with - the vast majority choose to receive messages via e-mail. But for residents who aren't online, they can choose to receive theirs via text messages, fax or their landline telephone number.
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. Watches can be managed online and coordinators can send messages to each other - either to individual addresses, streets, watches, areas, wards or towns.

The beneficial impact of the OWL system in Gwent will be among the topics for discussion when the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Paul Harris, meets with Neighbourhood Watch representatives on Wednesday (April 16th) for their annual general meeting.

Highlighting the importance of the system, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "OWL is fantastic initiative that is led by Neighbourhood Watch and managed by residents for the good of their own neighbourhoods and communities. Gwent utilises the system brilliantly and we now have a strong and established community online. It enables members to receive and share information about what matters to them in the way they choose."

He added: "The more members we have, the more ears and eyes we have out there in the community which can provide valuable intelligence to help us catch the criminals. It's a great example of the police working with partners and members of the community to make Gwent a safer place."

Ken Oliphant, Chairman of Gwent Neighbourhood Watch Association, said: "We are grateful for the continued support of the PCC and Gwent Police Force. My team in Neighbourhood Hood Watch are adding new members every week and we want you to join the growing band of members who care about their communities so please join OWL. On the last survey 98% of people said it made them feel safer in their community because of the information OWL sent them."

To encourage more local residents to take advantage of the system and stay up to date with their local officers and neighbourhood watches, existing OWL members are being offered the chance to win a £50 shopping voucher to sign up their friends and family.

All they need to do is register to enter the competition on the OWL website www.owl.co.uk/gwent and they will be e-mailed details directly. Individuals that sign up the highest numbers will be in with.