PCC Joins Steak Out at Community BBQ

The event was organised to coincide with Neighbourhood Watch Week and as part of the Summer Street BBQ initiative by Gwent Police's Neighbourhood Team which aims to increase community membership of the Online Watch Link (OWL) system the Commissioner funds.

The 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.

Over 41,000 households in Gwent have now signed up to OWL (1 in 6 homes) and there are over 5500 watches running across the Gwent Police Force area. In addition to signing up new members at the event today, officers encouraged existing OWL members to host their own Summer Street BBQs in their own neighbourhoods. And there's a prize of a security marking system worth £50 and a further £50 voucher to buy plants for any street that fully signs up to the initiative.

The afternoon was also a golden opportunity for Ystrad Mynach residents to get to know their local Police Officers better in a fun and relaxed environment and to pick up some summer safety tips. And there were plenty of activities for adults and children including 'soak a copper in stocks', face painting and a chance to sit in a Police car. The Police and Crime Commissioner and Gwent Police's Assistant Chief Constable, Lorraine Bottomley, also provided refreshments as guest Chefs at the BBQ.

Ystrad Mynach is one of the Police Stations the Commissioner approved for opening five days a week to the public this year:

"Not only was this a good opportunity to increase OWL membership it was also a fantastic way for the community to come together to share food, friendship and fun with Police Officers at their local station," explained Gwent PCC Ian Johnston.

"With over 40,000 registered members, the OWL community is already strong and established in Gwent but the more members we have, the more ears and eyes we have out there which can provide valuable intelligence to help us catch the criminals. By hosting fun events such as this one we hope even more local communities; streets and groups will take the initiative and sign up to OWL so we can make Gwent a safer place."

Gwent Police Assistant Chief Constable, Lorraine Bottomley, who is responsible for neighbourhood policing in Gwent, said: "I'm delighted that householders are realising the value of being connected to their local policing team via the OWL system. We've been running a prize competition for those existing OWL members recruiting the highest number of new OWL members, the winning prize being £50 per local authority area; that incentive scheme will continue until September, because we want at least a quarter of homes in Gwent on board with the scheme. Ideally we'd love everyone to get involved."

Similar events will be held in each of the five local council areas in Gwent over the summer.