Taking back the streets

2015-11-04 06:00
 Photo: darshan rangai A few of the members of the Ottawa Crime Forum at their meeting at the weekend.

Photo: darshan rangai A few of the members of the Ottawa Crime Forum at their meeting at the weekend.

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OTTAWA residents, organisations and police have turned the crime surge in the area around by working together and taking control of their community.

In February and March the area was plagued with crimes such as armed robbers, assaults with weapons, theft of vehicles and hijacking.

Ottawa Crime Watch chairman Nerash Dayanand said that at the start of the year incidents of crime were occurring around five times a week.

“We kept hearing of incidents taking place in our community and we decided we had to take a stand and make our area safe for our children and families. We knew we had to become proactive and mobilise or nothing would change,” said Dayanand.

“A handful of us walked from door to door and called the community to a meeting and we got started.”

In time, the group grew to dozens of residents being involved in patrols.

Using social media such as Facebook and Whatsapp while partnering with the police and community organisations, crime has now plummeted in the community.

“We now only have three or less incidents a month. In June and July we had no crime incidents in the community,” said Dayanand.

Although the community is winning their battle against crime, they are adamant the fight is far from over.

Dayanand said they don’t want to start sitting back and allow crime to creep in again, hence they are ensuring the community stays aware of what is taking place in surrounding areas in terms of crime through social media.

“We have a strict policy that our Facebook page and Whatsapp groups are used for only crime related information, warning the community of suspicious behaviour and helping mobilise residents if needed,” said Dayanand.

The Ottawa Crime watch has also initiated free self defence classes in the community every week so residents - both young and old - can have some skills to defend themselves.

SAPS communications officer Mark Prakasim commended the community in their dedication in fighting crime and the positive influence they are having through their success in other areas of Verulam.

“We are working with organisations like the Ottawa Crime Watch to combat crime in our community and are working on similar structures throughout Verulam. It’s important that the community work with police and in the confines of the law to combat crime,” said Prakasim.

If you would like to join Ottawa Crime Watch or learn more, call Dayanand on 084 324 7335.

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