(September 1988) A Neighbourhood Watch?

“Hold you the Watch tonight?”. Hamlet Act I, Sc. II.

General concern about theft and vandalism in the village, plus a little persuasion, prompted the Parish Council to call an extraordinary meeting of villagers to discuss the problem and its solution which included the possible formation of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme as promoted by the Police.

A goodly gathering of over 100, including many youths, came together on Monday 1st August. in the village hall which in itself showed the anxiety felt by the residents. The meeting was opened by Eric Payne, Chairman of the Parish Council, who introduced P.C. ‘Ron’ of the Banbury Force before retiring into the shadows. P.C. ‘Ron’ had brought with him reams of stickers and posters and a Video on Crime Prevention through the vigilance of Neighbourhood Watch members. A fairly convincing case was put forward for the formation of just such a body which could have no disadvantage and possibly considerable merit. Following the presentation the Chairman reappeared from ‘square leg’ to announce “Well its over to you now to do what you want about it!” The meeting was then thrown open and a general discussion ensued wherein those present seemed to divide into two factions – those who had already been the victims of crime or vandalism and were firmly for the formation of a self helf vigil and a second group who had as yet been personally unaffected by action against their property or person. This latter section made many more general points as to the importance of establishing cause before action leading to prevention. Prom the back of the hall one eloquent case was made for the fact that the troubles experienced by Sibford Gower were but the occasional overe xuberant actions of a few intoxicated youths. This begged the question from the front of the Hall as to whether, by the same process of argument, rape was therefore merely the manifestation of over sexual desires of a deranged opportunist. Such observations had reached the realms of the cost of nuclear submarines and the meeting had become somewhat out of hand with parties on their feet addressing one another direct in loud tones. When sanity was restored by the suggestions that the meeting was not concerned with a decision depending on a majority vote but simply that those interested in forming a Village Watch could remain and do so and the remainder could depart to form a youth club should they consider this to be equally helpful.

Molly Mulley spoke movingly about the wanton mindless vandalism of her car and was concerned for others who, unlike herself, did not have the protection of a husband. The story of wheeelnuts having been loosened on cars was simply beyond the comprehension of those present. Surely even drunken lunacy would not stoop to attempted manslaughter? Time and time again the point was made of the importance, nay necessity of once again having a Village Bobby with his “size fourteens” firmly planted on the village green. A swipe of his heavy cape, as of old, was probably of more benefit to the ‘education’ of youth and its integration into adult society than all the juvenile courts in the land. Concern for others and the ability to anticipate the consequence of ones action was the true turning point of mindless youth into adulthood and could take place at any age from six to twenty six.

The Chairman again made a well timed intervention and called for volunteers to form a watch, if that was the intention of some of those present. It took little persuasion for John Mulley to step forward and he was soon at work with pencil and paper recruiting others from the four corners of the village to help him in the organisation and planning. The Scene is open with all the help it can give to John to publish his ideas and methods of organisation, It may not be beyond the brief of his committee to perhaps, at a later date, call another meeting to take up the questions raised as to why such things happen – when people, anxious to help, rather than merely criticise and suggest, may come together to discuss the matter further.

It is earnestly hoped that the youth of the village will be incorporated into the Watch Scheme and be prepared to help. Responsibility is a great bridge to maturity. Above all there should be no division into an US and THEM situation, but only “WE TOGETHER”. We have a unique, beautiful village and a kind and considerate community. Together, the mindless silliness of a small section, with their eventual understanding, can hopefully be eliminated.