Wetherby crime prevention panel closes after 40 years

Patricia Bullough and Maureen Brewer B.E.M of The Wetherby District Crime Prevention Panel along with Wetherby Ward Officer Steve Atkinson present a cheque to Matthew Jameson of Macmillan Cancer Support to the value of 430.45
Patricia Bullough and Maureen Brewer B.E.M of The Wetherby District Crime Prevention Panel along with Wetherby Ward Officer Steve Atkinson present a cheque to Matthew Jameson of Macmillan Cancer Support to the value of 430.45

A longstanding chairman of the Wetherby crime prevention panel has warned 'apathy could set in' as a lack of support has forced the group to fold.

The panel of volunteers which worked to give communities advice and tips to help protect themselves from crime and problems with the law had been running for some 40 years.

Its patch covered from Barwick in Elmet to Alwoodley and Wetherby in between, but with dwindling members and a lack of support from parish councils in the area, the panel has closed.

Former Chair of the panel, Maureen Brewer B.E.M, said: "It's very sad that it is being closed. I have been told that it has been going for over 40 years so it's a shame that it should close down.

"There are so many new groups setting up and they all want volunteers so the volunteer structure on its own is being spread very thin.

"We couldn't get the volunteers to assist, nobody was paid it was all run on volunteers.

"I informed the panel a year ago last November and I warned them we had been trying to increase membership for the last four years saying we need help and representation from the parish councils but even they had stopped sending representatives.

"Apathy could set in because you're not reminding people all of the time to lock doors.

"To be fair the PCSOs send out their neighbourhood watch messages but we gave out leaflets to warn people to lock doors and to keep their hedge cut back so it wasn't overhanging and a danger to pedestrians."

The panel worked as a non-profit organisation, raising funds from donations or selling small home security items at community galas and other events it attended.

Mrs Brewer explained before taking the decision to discontinue their work, some members thought that the services could be moved to social media, but that in itself would have problems.

She said: "There weren't too many members left but out of those that were still there, there were a couple that weren't happy about it and felt it could be run in a different form such as on Facebook or Twitter.

"Yes the police use those platforms but you can't beat having that personal contact with somebody especially when you're visiting elderly groups and they love it when you give this information on paper and you can't do that with social media and not everybody uses those services.

"People are going to miss it. When I got home the other night there was three emails in my inbox from parish councils asking if we can come to events in the summer.

Mrs Brewer has worked as a police volunteer since 1985, and committed to the cause, said she would continue to give crime prevention talks to community groups.

However with the panel now closed, the group decided to give their remaining funds of just over £430 to Macmillan nurses working in the area they covered.

Mrs Brewer said: "We looked at the area we covered and we thought if we gave it to just something local to Boston Spa or Wetherby that wouldn't be fair on all the other parish councils that have supported us.

"So we decided Macmillan nurses covered all those areas and they have assured us that the money will go directly to help fund nursing in our area which is nice."