Demand for new Block Watch neighbourhods on the Saanich Peninsula has gone way up in recent months.
After years of waning interest in other communities, it seems areas of Sidney and North Saanich are bucking that trend, as more people are asking local police to help them set up Block Watch areas along their street.
Sidney North Saanich RCMP Constable Meighan de Pass says there’s currently a bit of a backlog of requests to them for Block Watch neighbourhoods. She said people have been asking about them as they do provide for a bit of a break on people’s homeowners’ insurance rates — while at the same time creating a sense of community around where people live.
To help meet the demand — there have been close to a dozen people asking about them — she’s holding an open house in Sidney later this month.
“Block Watch is all about people’s awareness of their neighbourhood and what could be different about it,” de Pass said, noting police patrols drive through neighbourhoods all the time, but officers might not know what’s out of place as much as the people who live there.
De Pass said in the event of crime — such as the recent spate of vehicle break-ins — a Block Watch could have helped not only by people noticing things that were out of place, but by sharing information between themselves and police.
That’s where Block Watch (at one time it was known as Neighbourhood Watch) comes in. De Pass said it’s a program independent of the RCMP, but they are involved as part of their community policing focus. Block Watch requires a captain — a representative of a certain neighbourhood, tasked with co-ordinating people’s contact information and who is responsible for liaising between the residents of a certain area and the local police.
She said in the era of social media, some people may not know each other the way they used to. Block Watch has the added effect of allowing neighbours to get to know one another, creating awareness about what’s normal in a given neighbourhood. De Pass added it can build trust as well. For example, she said in one North Saanich Block Watch area, people know when their neighbours are not at home or on vacation and keep an eye out on their homes. It’s all about prevention.
“They look out for each other.”
De Pass said the RCMP is working to set up more Block Watch areas on the Peninsula. To help get there, there will be an open house May 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sidney Fire Hall.
For more information about Block Watch, contact the Sidney North Saanich RCMP at 250-656-3931.