A community security scheme on the Mizen peninsula
is a first in the Republic of Ireland writes Aisling Meath
The Mizen Head Community Safety Project recently launched the ‘Nominated Neighbour’ scheme in a bid to deter bogus callers away from people’s homes.
The scheme works by seeking the help of neighbours or friends to check whether unexpected callers are genuine. This is invaluable to the more vulnerable members of the community.
Having, and being good neighbours, is a vital component in the prevention of crime. This aids the feeling of security and reducing fear. This particularly applies to older people who may be living alone.
The scheme has already been successfully operating in the UK and Northern Ireland. Those behind the Mizen Head Community Safety Project have worked hard to make it happen in their area, and it is the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.
They have distributed a number of packs throughout the region containing a personal safety guide, community alert fridge magnets and window stickers, a guide to security for the older person, and the Nominated Neighbour Scheme information and instruction cards. This initiative has been funded by IPB Insurance Community Fund.
The resident receives a card to hold up to the window telling the caller that they are not recognised and to go to their nominated neighbour, whose phone number and address is displayed on the card. The neighbour will then check the callers identity, and if necessary will return with the caller to the residents home, having been satisfied that they are genuine.
The cards are not left on permanent display but kept in a convenient place near the door to be shown to any unrecognised visitors.
A large attendance of volunteers from the various committees of the Mizen Head Community Safety Project met recently in the Ballydehob Community centre.
Present at the meeting were Sergeant Ian O’Callaghan, crime prevention officer for the West Cork region, and Diarmuid Cronin, Community Alert Development Officer from Muintir na Tire. The meeting was chaired by Billy O’Regan of the Ballydehob committee of the Safety Project.
‘Provisional figures show that there is a decrease in crime by 36% since this time last year in the West Cork region,’ Sergeant O’Callaghan told the group. ‘This drop in crime is particularly in relation to property theft, and is a trend noted by
the Gardaí since 2011.
Most burglaries happen when people are not at home, between the hours of 10am and 9pm. Theft of home heating oil and scrap metal are all reduced in the region, partly due to the decrease in prices for these commodities.’ he added.
‘It is also due to very active community alert and safety groups, such as yourselves, and this combined with the use of technology like having community text alert areas, community-based CCTV, and motion-based sensors and alarms have all contributed to the decline in crime in the area.’ he told the group.
However, he urged the community to stay vigilant and continue with schemes such as the Nominated Neighbour cards to ensure that unrecognised callers to people’s homes are there on legitimate business.
A number of other safety measures can also be employed including locking front and rear doors, fitting a door chain, door viewer, and/or having a panic button.
It is also useful to keep emergency contact numbers such as the nominated neighbour and the local Garda numbers listed under ICE - (In Case of Emergency.) on the phone, and never entering into conversation with unknown callers. The main message is: ‘If in doubt, keep them out.’
Sergeant O’Callaghan praised the efforts of the various committees of the Mizen Head Community Safety Project with special mention for Ballydehob Garda Jonathan McCarthy, who has been very supportive to the community group.
The Mizen Community Safety Project continues to expand on efforts at keeping the community safe, and a number of other initiatives are in the pipeline including the introduction of property marking machines.
Taking a note of the serial numbers and a photograph of valuable property is also advised, as it makes it easier to trace in the unfortunate event of a theft.
Having a dog can sometimes be a deterrent as well, and luckily the incidents of aggravated burglary are low in the region.
A Crime Prevention Information Sheet entitled ‘Security for the older person’ which is available from An Garda Siochána states ‘Believe it or not, older people are less often the victims of crime than many of their younger neighbours. Cases of assault are infrequent, although we would love if they never
happened at all.’
Nellie Cotter, Billy O’Regan, Tom Notter, Tommy Jermyn, Nora McSweeney and the many other volunteers of The Mizen Community Safety Project show the true kindness of a community determined to ensure that their vulnerable residents feel safe and secure.
Internet/telephone fraud continues to be a problem, so the advice is to keep all your virus software updated and never give out your bank details or address over the phone, no matter how convincing the caller sounds.
• There are still a number of Nominated Neighbour packs available and can be collected free of charge at Ballydehob Post Office, or The Little Way Charity shop in Schull.