In 2017 James Lee, a passionate and committed Millbridge community member in the Shire of Dardanup, was frustrated with the level of antisocial behaviour and criminal activity happening in the community.
“People were disinclined to share information about suspicious activity as anyone that did was quickly shut down,” Mr Lee said. “They were not realising they were damaging their community by not saying anything.”
Using Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) as a platform to bring the community together, Mr Lee created a community facebook page to encourage neighbours to look out for each other, share information about what was occurring in the suburb, and report suspicious activity to police.
He established firm guidelines that included anyone sharing information about suspicious activity had to make a report to police, and he reviewed and managed comments to defend anyone who was subject to unfair or gratuitous negative comments. Wherever possible, Mr Lee would also visit victims to provide support and help set up a NHW network on the affected street.
More than a year later, with over 4,700 people on the page, residents are now more inclined to share and report information promptly. The community’s enthusiasm to do this has greatly assisted police in identifying drug detections and dealers, and the removal of drugs from the streets has had a direct correlation to more positive crime patterns.
Australind OIC Senior Sergeant Mark Smith said the philosophy of NHW promotes knowledge through information sharing as a powerful crime-prevention tool and a way to connect a community. “Our challenge now is changing the perception of crime within the community, as the increased sharing of information has heightened the awareness of offending,” he said. “This is being put into perspective as the majority of crime is opportunistic and petty, but by working together with the community this has contributed to a significant change in the area".