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Harrow to benefit from Online Watch System (OWL)

Harrow to benefit from Online Watch System (OWL)

A new online crime prevention service will soon launch in Harrow, after residents called for better communication between each other and the police.

Harrow Council confirmed that the borough will benefit from the Online Watch Link (OWL), which connects people through an online information sharing platform.

It is expected that the service will be launched in September, while the source of funding - a licence costs £3,000 a year - is still to be confirmed.

Those who sign up to the programme are connected to various ‘watch’ schemes in their area.

They can then access alerts to possible crimes or scams, as well as to things such as missing people and flood warnings.

Police officers can also send out online messages - appealing for information on a road-by-road basis – and conduct live surgeries through the platform.

Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board campaigned for OWL to be introduced into the borough following successes in Hillingdon, Ealing, Brent, Barnet and Hertfordshire.

This week Riyaz Khaku, of Sussex Road, Harrow, urged his council to adopt the system after his catalytic converter was stolen.

He explained that his friends in Wembley reported a reduction in such crimes following alerts through OWL and wants Harrow to “follow this lead”.

“We need to increase awareness of this issue as people might not raise the alarm thinking there is work being done under the vehicle while these callous thieves are helping themselves,” he said.

Gary Fenton, who devised the system, said there were similar success stories in Hillingdon following a spate of catalytic converter thefts in the borough.

He said: “OWL makes people feel safer, improves engagement and helps catch offenders.
“It increases public perception of the local police presence and can be used as a mass and direct communications tool.

“Local communities can get involved - and get results. I’ve seen it on numerous occasions and it’s great when things work out.”

He added if the service “prevents two crimes a year, it pays for itself”.

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