Fifty dog owners have signed up to be the eyes and ears of the police across Wealden.
Many from the Uckfield area have joined Paws on Watch with more coming onboard at the public launch of the scheme at Uckfield Fire Station yesterday (July 6).
The innovative scheme is the first in Sussex with more likely to follow, according to the county police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne. It went back to the real principles of policing, she said.
Mrs Bourne welcomed the scheme and said she believed the idea would be replicated in other parts of the county.
She also praised Sussex Police at what was a difficult time with budgets reducing.
The scheme’s launch comes at a time when the Sussex Police Federation is running a poster campaign entitled Bye Bye Bobbies on the Beat.
Its poster says there are:
419 fewer pollice officers in Sussex than in 2010;
Fears that 500 more will vanish before 2020.
It says the cuts are because of a £106 million reduction to the police budget.
At the Paws on Watch launch, Cllr Claire Dowling, Lead Member at Wealden District Council for Public Health and Community Safety and Chair of the Safer Wealden Partnership, said there were more than 20,000 dogs in the Wealden area.
She said the inititiave from the safer Wealden partnership was targeted at owners who regularly walked their dog, were responsible owners who always cleared up after their dog in public places and wanted to help keep the area safe.
Paws on Watch members are asked to do three things:
- To act as an extra pair of eyes and ears in their local community, reporting back anything that seems suspicious or unusual;
- If they feel able to and it is appropriate to promote responsible dog ownership amongst other dog walkers by challenging those that do not clear-up after their dog and offering them a bag; and
- To help Sussex Police and other enforcement agencies to keep an eye out for specific crimes in their area and to report any details. For example, if there was a spate of heating oil thefts or a regular fly-tipper in a certain location, Paws on Watch members in that area would be emailed and asked to be vigilant for any suspicious behaviour.
Initially dog owners are asked to contact their local PCSO for details on how to join – you can find their details by visiting the Sussex Police website and clicking on your town, village or ward.
Click here to see our story from mid June announcing the launch of Paws on Watch