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Join in … with Murray Bridge Neighbourhood Watch
Jock MacGill and Norm and Margaret Paterson invite you to help prevent crime in the community.
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Jock MacGill remembers the anger that arose in Murray Bridge when the state government announced it would build a prison nearby.
“The old people said ‘their relatives are going to move to Murray Bridge and there’s going to be trouble’, and they were right,” he said.
Hundreds of people gathered for a public meeting at the old racecourse, and several Neighbourhood Watch groups were formed to keep an eye on what Jock called “the crime class”.
But people’s anger faded with time.
“We were too successful,” Jock said.
“We didn’t get people joining.”
Dwindling numbers will force the city’s last two Neighbourhood Watch groups to merge in 2023.
But they role the group plays is still important, members say.
That’s why Jock, Norm and Margaret Paterson, Maurice Wegener and Senior Constable David Brown set up outside Bunnings recently: to try and recruit new members.
When did you first get involved with Neighbourhood Watch?
Margaret: When we first moved to Murray Bridge in 2014.
Norm: Eight years ago.
Jock: I joined in 1992.
What do you spend your time doing?
Jock: All we do now is keep an eye out for strangers.
Norm: We still hold regular meetings, about every two months.
Jock: Our newsletters were very popular because of the crime reports. People knew if their area was being targeted or not … It looks like they’re going to go on the internet.
What do you get out of your involvement?
Norm: The thing that impressed me was we were the eyes and ears for the police department. We didn’t go and arrest people, we just notified (police).
Jock: Someone in their 20s or 30s with a backpack, definitely not a schoolkid, they were suspect … they were potentially problems. If you were out the front, you’d eyeball them, get a good hard look at them.
Norm: The reward is knowing we’re helping people, helping the community.
Margaret: Keeping it safe.
What is your fondest memory of your time with Neighbourhood Watch?
Jock: One of our successes was getting (street) numbering on kerbing. We made the suggestion that, at the hospital, they not have traffic lights, but have a roundabout. We used to have some shocking accidents there. And we made the suggestion that having a toilet block somewhere down near White Hill, on Adelaide Road, would be a bonus.
What is your goal with Neighbourhood Watch?
Margaret: We’d welcome (more members). We welcome able bodies.
David: And minds.
Why should people join Neighbourhood Watch?
Margaret: What do you think of the safety and welfare of your community? You can ask yourself that. You can answer the phone, you can letterbox – what else can you do? Just be involved in sit-down things like this, handing things out. It’s community-run.
More information: Call Senior Constable David Brown or Senior Constable Kim Ide on 8535 6345, or visit www.watchsa.net.au.
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