Cambridge is resorting to Dad’s Army tactics to recruit extra sets of eyes and ears in support of retailers hit hard by escalating crime.
The call for volunteers – men and women – to join a community patrol working the Cambridge and Leamington central business districts during the day has come from the Cambridge Safer Community Trust.
And it is the town’s retirement villages in the trust’s sights where there are plenty of able-bodied people who could walk the beat, said trust member Kelly Bouzaid.
The Cambridge Community Patrol already provides a service driving the town’s streets for five out of seven nights a week in the safety of a ute donated by C & R Developments.
The patrol recently trialled a daytime on-foot service to discourage shoplifters in the CBD.
Neil Bridgland said the night time patrol, started in 2017, relied on mature volunteers. He is in no doubt there would be others willing to help out during the day.
People wary of working at night might be happy to work during the day keeping an eye out in town.
“There are no bobbies on the beat anymore and while this won’t replace that, it will help,” says Bridgland.
The plan is to recruit 25 to 30 people using a campaign similar to that used by Lord Kitchener in World War I to recruit soldiers – replacing “Your country needs you” with “Cambridge needs you.”
The volunteers would work in pairs and patrol the main streets but would not be expected to chase offenders.
“This is a Dad’s Army type approach and one that works well in other towns,” said Bouzaid.
They would undergo training and be equipped with radio equipment.
The trust would also need to raise about $5000 for uniforms and communication hardware to ensure the volunteers were kitted out, said Bouzaid.
“There are many abled bodied citizens who care greatly about our community and who have time on their side.
“Given police resources are stretched, this initiative is designed to support our retailers and keep our streets safer. As with the Community Patrol, this team will work closely with our local police.”
Bouzaid, who is chief executive of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, said she and the trust wanted to do all they could in support of retailers and the council.
Waipā District Council has fast-tracked the installation of 25 closed circuit television cameras across the district with money either coming from the government or from a ratepayer serviced loan.
There are already 13 CCTV cameras in operation across Waipā with their installation overseen by a group made up of council representatives, the NZ Police, CommSafe, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and community representatives. Cameras are monitored by police and the district council meets all costs.
Dad’s Army was a nickname given to the Home Guard – Britain’s last line of defence against German invasion in World War II. It comprised men and women too young or too old to join the Armed Services.
The BBC series Dad’s Army, which aired from 1968 to 1977 over nine series and 80 episodes, was a huge ratings success and is airing on Sky TV’s Jones Channel weekdays between 7.20pm and 7.55pm.
Lance Corporal Jack Jones, the town butcher, often referred to Lord Kitchener, who he “served” under in the Sudan.