A DORSET MP and the Police Crime Commissioner showed support for the Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch (CHNW) by attending its inaugural event.

Held at the Limelights Youth Centre in Canford Heath, representatives from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service, charity Victim Support, home security company Avocet Hardware and others had stalls for residents to enquire about different aspects of safety.

Dorset PCC David Sidwick said: “The reason I’m here today is to show my support for neighbourhood watch. I’m very clear about my goals to drive down crime and anti-social behaviour and the working relationship between neighbourhood watch and Dorset Police is absolutely critical to that.

“I’d like more watches across the county. It’s been shown that if you have a neighbourhood watch and it’s operating, we see that significant crime can be cut by 28 per cent.

Bournemouth Echo: Dorset Police attend Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch event at Limelights Youth CentreDorset Police attend Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch event at Limelights Youth Centre

“At the moment we’ve got 257 watches across Dorset with over 1,000 people taking part in them and I’d like to increase that. So, what I’ve done is invested £10,000 to support the Association of Dorset Watches this year which will have gone directly to a very good booklet about how to stay safe and also signs to demonstrate that areas are being guarded.”

Canford Heath ward councillor Sandra Moore, who is also the CHNW secretary, said: “Our strapline for the neighbourhood watch is ‘crime cannot flourish in a community that cares’. Canford Heath has got a very vibrant and lively community and we do our level best to design out problems or organise events that make this area a better place to live.”

Darren from South Coast Self Defence said: “We teach women, children and adults a self defence system that can be taught in about four hours rather than a weekly continual process. There’s no grading or belts, it’s purely about self-defence in a street situation.

“Recently we’ve seen a big increase in interest from women, just this morning we had two women and their three children sign up. In the last two months I’d say that 85-90 per cent of enquiries have been from women.

“It’s about giving people the courage and mental strength to say that I can do this, I can defend myself.”

Elsewhere, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service safe and well advisor Michelle White showed visitors an exhibit of a plug adapter which caused a fire in the area, after a resident used it for their fridge and microwave.

Bournemouth Echo: Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service showcase plug socket which resulted in Canford Heath fireDorset & Wiltshire Fire Service showcase plug socket which resulted in Canford Heath fire

Michelle says that the electricity needed to power such appliances being so tightly compacted resulted in overheating and eventually a fire.

MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole Michael Tomlinson said: “It’s been brilliant to be invited here, to see so many different stands and to see the brilliant community work that’s going on.

“My post bag is wide and varied but much of it is centred around neighbourhood issues, minor crimes like vandalism for example, and I’m really hoping that this group will continue to step up to help meet that challenge. It’s exciting to see different groups working together for the same cause, it’s fantastic.”