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By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 30, 2013

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VOLUNTEERS’ crucial role in keeping Staffordshire communities safe was the central theme at this year’s Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Conference.

Over 80 NHW representatives gathered for the annual event, this year titled “Our Community, Our Future”, at police headquarters in Stafford on Saturday, 9 November.

Volunteers are central to Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ Safer, Fairer, United Communities five-year strategy which was launched in October.

Deputy PCC Sue Arnold, a keynote speaker at the conference, paid tribute to the hard work of NHW co-ordinators across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Mrs Arnold presented the annual award for NHW member of the year to Philip Thurlow-Craig from Stafford.

She said: “Volunteers play a critical part in making communities work and make a massive contribution to society.

“Neighbourhood Watch is a tried and tested scheme which makes a daily difference to keeping people and their property safe.

“The commitment shown by co-ordinators and members across local communities is second to none.

“We’re urging further volunteers to join this fantastic movement and are particularly keen to involve young people, which is why we’re looking at how we can use technology better to attract a younger audience.”

Delegates were welcomed by Staffordshire Young Police Cadets who also gave a presentation during the day about the scheme which is engaging young people through a vibrant programme.

The conference featured a showcase by the Right Stuff boxing initiative, spearheaded by PC Andy Whitehall, which has also made a significant change to youngsters’ lives throughout Staffordshire. The day also included a presentation about Crimestoppers’ Fearless campaign for young people and a demonstration about Community Speed Watch.

Chief Superintendent Jon Drake, also a keynote speaker at the event, said: “Neighbourhood Watch volunteers are essential in helping Staffordshire Police keep our communities safe. The event was not only an opportunity to showcase some of the highlights of work on-going within the force and with partners, but also a chance for Chief Superintendent Juliet Prince and I to thank in person many of the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators for their outstanding commitment too.”

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