Robin Sutton, Chair of Cambridgeshire NW

Robin told us, “I worked in education for over forty years giving me an insight into the importance of nurturing strong, positive connections in families and communities and the benefits this could bring to their wellbeing and environment.  It was quite natural for me to join Neighbourhood Watch, an organisation which champions building strong, active and safer communities and aims to reduce crime and improve wellbeing.

Being part of Neighbourhood Watch has given me an opportunity to continue supporting communities, initially as a scheme coordinator, then as a Multi Scheme Administrator (MSA) and more recently as Chair of our Force Association.

My week as a volunteer for Neighbourhood Watch can be varied to say the least. Communication is a significant aspect with emails from our agency partners, members, coordinators, district leads and National HQ becoming even more frequent with the COVID-19 lockdown.  Like many others, I have been meeting online using Skype and Zoom and as our skills in using this technology improve, I expect us to continue holding some virtual meetings.  In order to avoid complications with my domestic email address and its capacity limits I tend to use Alert messaging for bulk emails. This is a much easier and quicker option and one which avoids my having to store members’ data on my home machine.

As part of our police partnership activities I have, along with many other members of NW, been making COVID-19 welfare visits and burglary victim support visits. I have met with police teams and individual officers to discuss our vision for Neighbourhood Watch, how we can contribute to neighbourhood policing, how the communications between us could be improved, tackling cybercrime and generally helping to build this crucial partnership. We benefit from the regular local area reports sent out using Alert to our coordinators. It has now been agreed that these will be more than a list of incidents and also contain information about trends in crime and good news stories.

A major part of my role has been in building partnerships between NW and other organisations and designing a structure which maintains clear boundaries for NW involvement. Our association is now part of a large county group of professional agencies who together aim to prevent scams. The advantage of this is that we can draw on their expertise for training and support far beyond the scope of scams and the agencies benefit from feedback from our members living in the communities they work with.

My aim is to lead an association which a strong sense of purpose which will help us to become more consistent and effective. We need to know what we do well and what we can improve on and we need to share our best practice. Alert provides a picture of the demography and distribution of our network allowing us to target those areas that need more support. Being able to access detailed information about our organisation from individuals through to an overview of the force area from one central database which is essential if we are to understand what is needed for self-improvement and also helps to ensure that we comply with GDPR. 

My expectation is that by drawing together information from our police force, using the NW self-analysis tool, making better use of Alert and by using external data, for instance from, we will shape our activities based on trends and intelligence rather than short term incidents and historical perceptions.  Our members are community heroes who champion neighbourliness, in the future we will also work smarter as an organisation to give them the support they deserve!”

Robin was photographed at a community safety meeting.

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