Paws on Patrol is a crime prevention initiative run by the Community Safety Team in Neath Port Talbot, but there are other areas in Wales also doing something similar, such as Swansea. Community conscious dog walkers in the Neath Port Talbot area are asked to help their local neighbourhood by being the “eyes and ears” of the community and report issues such as Graffiti, Dog Fouling, Faulty Street Lighting, Fly Tipping and Anti-Social Behaviour, and Criminal Activity. The Safer NPT Partnership believes that the over 1000 dog walkers within the County Borough can play an important part in keeping neighbourhoods safer and cleaner. Even the smallest action can have an impact. This scheme links in with existing community initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch and South Wales Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). At no time are members expected to intervene in any incidents. Their role is to simply report to relevant agencies and to help gather evidence.
Each new member receives a welcome pack containing all the information they need. Regular newsletters are sent out via email which will include up to date information on events, crime trends and advice from the community safety partnership. Newsletters are posted to those without internet access.
Before the pandemic, regular events took place to advertise the scheme, sign up new members, and to be a presence in the community for residents to speak to about any concerns they may have. Events were sometimes targeted at specific areas that were having issues to help inform residents of how to report issues. Where possible, we would invite other partners to attend our events, such as Dogs Trust, South Wales Police, or other internal Council departments.
During the pandemic, we have been unable to engage with existing members and potential new recruits, so it became important for us to broaden the scheme and look at more digital avenues. As a result, new members can now sign up online.
There is also a brand new Paws on Patrol Facebook page, which helps push messages out to members and further promotes the scheme by encouraging online engagement @PawsNPT. A recent post relating to dog theft prevention reached nearly 10k on social media.
The Neath Port Talbot scheme has over 1100 members.
Benefits for members
Events pre-pandemic would offer
We hope to resume events like these in the near future. Events are back up and running but currently on a much smaller scale. We are regularly collecting anecdotal evidence, but otherwise it’s difficult to measure how many people are reporting as they report directly to the agencies.
Good feedback regularly from the newsletters.
“I reported fly tipping issue through the details provided and issue was resolved in two days.” (Seven Sisters Area)
“I feel part of the community and that I’m contributing to keeping areas tidy for myself and others in their community.”
Other feedback has included: members enjoy reading the newsletters; the dog theft prevention packs making members feel safer. One lady has moved home three times and phoned us each time to give her new details as she enjoys being a member of the scheme and has been in the scheme for many years.
Suggestions from members