Neighbourhood Watch branch chairman says decision to cut grant to county group shows ‘disconnect’ from police towards volunteers

Chairman of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association Ian Fearnley, centre, says he feels let down by the cut to his and his colleague's expenses budget.
Chairman of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association Ian Fearnley, centre, says he feels let down by the cut to his and his colleague's expenses budget.

The chairman of a Neighbourhood Watch branch has added his criticism to a row over the decision to withdraw a grant to the county group.

Nick King, chairman of Towcester Neighbourhood Watch, was responding to the news last week that Northamptonshire Police had cut a grant of £2,500 given to the county group.

Adam Simmonds has pledged �10,000 to the Neighbourhood Watch group from his department's funds

Adam Simmonds has pledged �10,000 to the Neighbourhood Watch group from his department's funds

County chairman Ian Fearnley said the grant was used to cover the expenses for him and his deputy to travel the county to visit branches and attend meetings.

Mr King said the withdrawal of the grant raised a number of concerns.

“It highlights for me a worrying disconnect between the ambitions of the police, and specifically the Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds, and the recruitment, management and motivation of volunteers.

“We know the PCC has an ambitious drive to recruit volunteers in a wide variety of roles.

“I respect and support this desire for more voluntary and community help for the police – it’s one reason why I joined Neighbourhood Watch in the first place.

“However, volunteers need to be valued; they need to be shown respect and appreciated; they need encouragement; they need motivating.

“Withdrawing funding that helps Neighbourhood Watch at county level support 1,250 groups, representing 60,000 residents, says the opposite,” he added.

A spokesperson for the police said: “Northamptonshire Police has supported Neighbourhood Watch for many years, working with them in their role as an independent organisation.

“The £2,500 previously granted to Neighbourhood Watch was allocated to them to spend how they wanted; it was not specifically given to pay for mileage.

“Funding arrangements have changed for many of the local organisations we work with, and support has been given to Neighbourhood Watch to help them bid for other grants that support the police and crime plan in more specific ways.”

Police and Crime Commisioner Adam Simmonds has also pledged £10,000 to the watch service in Northamptonshire, though it is understood this money is for community projects and cannot be used to help with Mr Fearnley or his co-chairman’s expenses.