Minutes of NHW meetings

The first meeting of the newly launched Warwards Lane Neighbourhood Watch scheme was held at the 'Snug' at the Dogpool Hotel on Thursday 17th April 2009 for the purpose of informing those attending of the purpose behind its formation.

Paul Rickards and Garry Sayers, the NWS Corordinator and Deputy Coordinator respectively along with two of the Bournville Lane Police Community Support Officers; Jenny Lloyd and Colin Brookes were present to answer questions raised. PR stated that the structure of the meeting would be to address a point, allow comment and then move on allowing any other business at the end.

PR began by welcoming everyone who had been able to attend, introducing the street coordinators as well as the police who were in attendance. This overview went on to identify the need for such schemes and that everyone would need to be more more responsive to providing information to the police, particularly in the three highest recorded crime categories.

JL and CB then proceeded to outline what these were - burglary, car vandalism and theft from vehicles - after each of which, those attending the meeting were given the opportunity to express any concerns, experiences and/or suggestions they had on each category. PR made clear that the police representatives enforced but diid not make the law to put into context, the perceived and actual flaws in the law.

It was felt that since many of the older properties had rear alleyway access, that where practicable on finacial grounds, lockable gates could be introduced so that resident occupiers could do this for themselves whereas tenant occupiers would need approval and finances from their landlords. This would help to mitigate opportunist thefts to a degree.

GS and JL both identified that the police had a number of low cost security devices that could be ordered through them to improve both the detection - noise alarms - as well as the deterrent of thieves and these caThe meeting opened at 7.10pm.

Paul Rickards thanked everyone for their attendance and introduced the NHW team including PCSO Adrian Richardson to some of the newer NHW members.

PCSO Richardson then began his report on crime along Warwards Lane since 1st July 2011 up to the present day of this meeting. There have been eighteen crimes reported during this period comprising of three vehicle contents thefts, four incidents of criminal damage to vehicles, two pedal cycles stolen, two attempted thefts from a vehicle, two burglaries and five thefts.

It was confirmed that three quarters of burglaries occur as a consequence of residents leaving their homes insecure suggesting a high incidence of opportunistic crime rather than planned break-ins. That said, there was at least one instance of a first floor entry to a property via a flat roof extension via a window left open in the night. The residents were in at the time incidentally.

Fortunately, there was no resultant assault to the occupants. Increasingly, student rented accommodation is being targeted because of high value electrical goods like game consoles, laptops and music players of whatever description. With Xmas fast approaching, and with the darker nights, physically securing the property at ALL TIMES is essential, to minimise the threat.

There are a number of on-going operations to recover stolen property and to specifically establish the location of the main suspects to crimes within our area and the police are undertaking under-cover operations to facilitate this. To date, there have been no arrests, but Garry and I would endorse the principle of reporting suspicious activity and reporting all crimes taking place.

Police resourcing is done on the basis of recorded crime rather than actual and the former figure will always be lower and therefore better if we as a community fail to report all incidents, no matter how trivial. We are all aware of the cutbacks in services and the police are no exception so what resources remain will be even more reliant on our own efforts to report matters to police.

If it it's not recorded, it didn't happen as the saying goes. Harsh, but true. Everyone was reminded of the new '101' non-immediate and non-urgent telephone number for alerting police to events that do not require immediate assistance. This number is in addition to the '0345-113-5000' NHW number quoted on all our street NHW newsletters. The '999' telephone number remains.
There will be an impact on policing levels on the 30th November 2011 as a consequence of industrial action by the civilian support staff that will necessitate 'beat' police officers performing the administrative duties. Consequently, there will be a longer response time to non-emergency situations and more police will be drafted in to patrol the strike marches taking place.
Garry Sayers then summarised the responses that Brigid Jones, our local councillor, had been asked at the previous NHW meeting. Firstly, Warwards Lane is going to be re-surfaced during the current financial year that ends on 5th April 2012. Like with St. Stephens Road, this will necessitate removing cars from certain sections of the road on a 'sectional' basis upwards.
The former 'Woodside' site is intended to be re-developed as a twenty-seven house social housing project but, to date, no planning applications have been filed and it is niot known when these are likely to be forthcoming. The Council will notify residents impacted by this proposal and h guess the key thing here is more to do with the nature of the occupants proposed.
Sweeping of our street is intended to be carried out on the day after our rubbish collection but thjis may well change when street services become 'ward' centric. The other points pertaining to the enforcement of parking restrictions along Stirchley high street and others are being pursued and these will be mentioned directly at one of the local surgeries at Christ Church, Pershore Road.
Paul Rickards then began to summarise the recruitment success of new NHW members to date where there are now over eighty households out of a full-time occupied total of around one hundred and eighty. This has been achieved through a lot of hard work on Garry's and my part and we are seeking to reach a hundred before the 1st July 2012 next year. Here's hoping!
Another visit for this purpose will take place on Saturday 17th December 2011. Two more things will help in this regard. the first of these is making sure the NHW stickers provided to you upon joining are placed on the front portion of any bay window, rather than the side, to make sure they are visible to passing foot traffic. The other is to mention having joined to neighbours.
Paul Rickards then went onto talk about the student visits undertaken on 3rd October 2011, accompanied by student wardens from Birmingham University, wherein information about litter disposal and recycling procedures, was distributed to help reduce the incidence of bags left out for up to a week. We were generally well-received and trust that this effort improves matters.
Please identify any issues with students, and in fairness, this may include some rowdier visitors, to the student wardens who may be contacted on 0121-251-2502 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There are a team of twelve attached to the university and they are tasked with ensuring reported complaints are dealt with via 'peer pressure' which generally succeeds.
Garry then mentioned the intention to conduct another 'Big Clean Up' of the street on saturday 10th December 2011 beginning outside Parkside Autos at 10.45am. Bags and 'pickers' will be provided and it is recommended older clothing and footwear is worn. It is anticipated that it will not ake more than an hour and a quarter providing we have a dozen or more persons.
All residents need to be pro-active in how they complete the recycling as families generate more of this and should be crushing cans and ripping cardboard boxes into smaller pieces to ensure they fit into the relevant box. Some residents reported that the collection crews were seen throwing bags carelessly, that then broker or split, a factor we can pursue once it is ward based.
There is a City Council website that can be used to request special collections; www.birmingham.gov.uk and can also be used to order more bin bags which some residents complained were being stolen from front gardens because they were left in the open rather than somewhere more discreet. I know this happens because I had some stolen early in the morning!
They were stored behind my front wall as well. There is also a telephone number 0121-303-1122 that can be used to contact the City Council to re-order recycling boxes and bin bags of all varieties. If you do see these left out when you know neighbours are away, why not either take them in until they return, or at least hide them behind a plant pot or some such and let them know!
Birmingham University students leave on 23rd December 2011.
This concluded the specific NHW items.
We then went onto mention the non-NHW items of interest. These included the closure of the Dogpool Lane bridge and the proposal to install double-yellow lines along a portion of our street. This took place within the AGM of the Stirchley Forum meeting on Monday 17th November 2011 and was attended by Amey Construction and National Express representatives.
I will not restate the summary that has already been sent out but suffice to say, the original proposal is now under review and a walk-through will take place, hopefully at a time of high parking space usage and with a few weeks notice. I have, myself, observed today the number 76 bus using the length of Warwards Lane whilst the re-surfacing of St. Stephens Road is being finished.
I also saw a fire engine exiting onto the Pershore Road whilst the number 76 bus waited by the chicane, a feat that could only have been managed if there was sufficient viewing distance to see its approach. No one present at the meeting is supportive of the double-yellow lines as this evidence demonstrates they are unnecessary. Revised bus route, yes, double-yellow lines, no!
The Tesco and Asda situation remains ongoing. It is anticipated that one or more of these companies may well build in proximity to roads off Stirchley's main high stret in return for monies provided by them for the betterment of Stirchley. We recommend the use of another website; sellyparksouth.org.uk as this carries updates on matters affecting us locally.
There were only two items of AOB which was the suggestion that we consider erecting signage stating that non-residents of Warwards Lane should not park in our street and that students cars should be parked on the St. Mary's Hospice side of our street. The other pertained to the rather 'choice' usage of language spoken by council rubbish collectors that was heard by some residents.
Garry and I will discuss these and establish how viable a solution actually is.
The meeting then closed.
 n certainly be identified both in a future newsletter and NW meeting. That said, the police brought with them several leaflets, brochures and stickers relating to the NW scheme for attendees to take away.

Several residents made representation on the degree to which they were able to physically defend their property from a burglar or their property from vandals as there is a strong perception that the existing justice system favours the offender in so far as the media reporting is concerned. A number of high profile cases were cited - Tony Ryan, the Norfolk property owner who shot at and killed one of the two burglars who had broken into his house.

These concerns were addressed by the attending PCSO's who reiterated the point that whilst they would always endeavour to protect persons and property, they would have to do so within the context of the law. Thus, any attempt to restrain a burglar for instance might entail a countercharge of assault which is allowable under the law given that the court would have to decide what was reasonable. This would equally be the case for the police as well as civilians.

Vandalism to cars was the second most recorded crime for Warwards Lane and given that only two reports were received on the second occassion where multiple cars were damaged, the first being the early hours of New Years Day, the PCSO's reminded everyone present that reporting incidents, however trivial via the Crimestopper line would be the guage by which police resourcing would be calculated.

A temporary CCVTV camera is planned for the junction of Warwards Lane and the Pershore Road in the future to assist in the detection of culprits and it was suggested that a representaive from the Highways Agency was invited to discuss or comment on this proposal. THe junction of WL with St. Stephens Road was also suggested as another route by which vandals had been seen carrying out the criminal damage these figures represent.

The third highest recorded crime within Warwards Lane was the theft of items from vehicles parked along the carriageway. The obvious point here is not to leave any items in a vehicle and certainly not within plain sight so if absolutely necessary, put them into a locked boot but preferrably remove all non-essential items overnight anyway. Persons have actually been observed by residents systematically trying car door locks that might have been left unsecured.

Several other issues were also mentioned during the closing phase of the meeting. The first of these was the relevance of the Data Protection Act 2006 in so far as the providing of resident details for the purposes of NWS to which the coordinators and the police promised to respond on this issue to subscribers. The PCSO's also commented upon the court procedures were an eye-witness statement ever be necessary as people want reassurance their identities could be protected which they would be.

The PCSO's also outlined the fact that the weekend before the meeting and the one following would entail plains clothes police officers patrolling along Warwards Lane in an attempt to curtail the crime levels in the area. Those attending were reminded of there being a number of other agencies whose remit would be more pertinent to resolving anti-social behaviour arising from noise pollution including the student warden scheme run by the University of Birmingham.

PR and GS thanked everyone including the JL and CB for attending again.

The meeting then closed.