New roles for neighbourhood watch

National 2 minutes, 37 seconds


VILLAGE heads, along with members of the village consultative councils (MPK), are primed to take on greater responsibility and decision-making powers in implementing neighbourhood watch activities.

Yesterday, Belait police met with the neighbourhood watch committees from Mukim Kuala Belait villages, updating on progress of the watch which was reinstated in October 2014

Several updates, based on feedback from the village heads, appear to pave the way for more equal power-sharing between the committees and the police.

One request was for police statistics to be shared with village heads, to allow villages to monitor crime rates in their neighbourhoods and to respond to information such as crime hot spots and vulnerable locations.

Acting Head of the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) Public Relations Unit, ASP Hj Mohd Noor Hj Abd Rahman, during a presentation of the achievements of the watch to date, assured village heads that the police would work towards supplying updated crime statistics to village heads at least once a month.

This should see neighbourhood watch committees take more initiative in planning follow-up activities with police counterparts, leading to actions such as increased patrols, targeting areas at risk.

Statistics shared at the meeting showed that Kuala Belait’s overall crime rate for theft (the highest type of crime recorded in the Mukim), had remained stable year-on-year, with 15 cases recorded in January 2015 against five arrests.

The same month in 2013 and 2014 recorded 15 and 17 cases respectively, spiking from only four cases in January 2012.

While this did not seem to reflect any direct impact from the recent neighbourhood watch operations in Kuala Belait, an officer from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) told The Brunei Times that the watch had, nevertheless, already proven to be an important tool in community policing, with village heads in particular being valuable sources of information.

He said: “Since the watch, we have received more frequent reporting of criminal activity during the patrols... village heads are now in close communication with us. Recently, one informed me of two incidents happening in his village. We feel closer now and they feel more comfortable to contact us. This is one of the aims of the watch – to build rapport between the police and the villagers.”

“Statistics are seasonal and the rise and fall of crime depends on the situation. How often the watch operates cannot correlate to the statistics,” explained the CID officer.

“Since the reactivation of the neighbourhood watch, there has been a heightened perception of omnipresence of the RBPF,” said ASP Hj Mohd Noor.

He went on to say that the effectiveness of the watch would be measured primarily by the rise or fall of the Crime Index in each district. This would directly influence the planning and strategising of follow-up measures with the watch.

Police also announced at the meeting that it was working on group insurance plans for members of the neighbourhood watch, an issue raised during the ongoing Legislative Council session.

Also present were RBPF Acting District Commanding Officer (Belait) Supt Mohd Hadini Hj Othman, Assistant Belait District Officer Mohd Hasmiron Hj Mohd Taib, the Penghulu of Mukim Kuala Belait, as well as village heads from Mukim Kuala Belait.

The Brunei Times