Community representatives from across Watford met on May 2 to discuss the impact of recent media coverage concerning heightened police activity in Watford.
Watford has been at the centre of media coverage recently as local police continue to hunt suspected serial rapist, Joseph McCann (Story here bit.ly/2DJT8Bo).
Police invited groups from across the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) to come together and talk about any concerns, with the aim of ensuring that everyone has the tools and the information available in order to reassure residents, visitors, employees and service users.
Watford Safer Neighbourhood inspector Simon Mason said: “We are very lucky to have such a rich and vibrant community here in Watford and it was really heartening to see so many representatives at yesterday’s meeting.
“We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to talk about their concerns regarding the recent national media coverage about police activity in the town. The meeting helped us gauge the community’s reaction, find out how these incidents may have affected residents and ask what can be done to further allay people’s worries.
“We are aware that there is some speculation on social media which could be fuelling further concern in the community. I would urge people to always treat these postings with a degree of caution as much of the information can often be misleading.
“Following the meeting, the consensus was that the majority of the community are aware of the reasons for the increase in police presence but are continuing to go about their daily business taking the normal personal safety precautions.
“In light of recent events, Hertfordshire Constabulary has increased its high-visibility neighbourhood patrols and have received positive feedback from some members of the community who say they feel safer as a result.
“The Community Safety Partnership will continue to work together with other organisations to ensure Watford continues to be a safe place to live, work and enjoy a night out.”
Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, the CSP offers the following personal safety advice:
- If you feel unsafe or suspect you are being followed, head to a public place.
- Consider buying a personal safety alarm and carry it with you in case you feel unsafe at any point.
- Try to stay on busy streets and avoid parks, alleyways and shortcuts – even if you are not walking alone.
- Make sure a friend or family member knows where you are going, who you are meeting and what time you expect to return.
- When socialising with a group of people, watch out for each other and make sure everyone stays safe.
- If consuming alcohol, stay alert as drugs or extra alcohol can be added to drinks unknowingly.
- Try to consume alcohol in moderation so that you remain aware and alert at all times, as alcohol can seriously affect your ability to make safe judgements.
- If you see someone else in trouble, think twice before trying to help as this may aggravate the situation. Instead, shout for help, make noise to attract attention or call 999 if someone is in danger.
- Always plan how you’re getting home. If using public transport at night, check ahead for the times of the last train, tube or bus to your destination and always carry the number of a trusted, licensed taxi company or suitable booking app on your phone. If possible, arrange for a friend or family member to meet you at your destination.
- When travelling by taxi, always use a reputable mini-cab or private hire firm. All legitimate taxis display their unique registration plate which shows that they’re licensed by the local authority. Drivers should also display their own identification badge with their name, number and expiry date within the vehicle.
- If a bus is empty or it is after dark, try to sit on the lower deck near the driver. If travelling on trains and tubes, try to sit in busier carriages.
- Carry your wallet or purse out of sight and avoid showing people your cash.