Block Watch is expanding to Shirley and East Sooke.

Block Watch program expanding in Sooke region

Crime prevention program starting in Shirley and East Sooke

The Block Watch program is making a comeback in the Sooke region, thanks to the local RCMP detachment.

Two new Block Watch groups are starting up: one in East Sooke, another in Shirley.

The idea is to have more eyes on the street, allowing police to be aware faster of what’s happening in each one of Sooke’s distinctive and rural neighbourhoods.

More so, the program fights isolation and separation that crime creates and feeds upon, said Sooke RCMP Const. Sam Haldane, the program coordinator.

“It forges bonds among area residents and businesses, helps reduce burglaries and other crime, and improves relations between police and the communities we serve,” she said, adding that her role is to start up the program with captains, civilian leaders in the community who will then lead the program as a community rather than as a police initiative.

In a way, Haldane said this is going back to the times where everyone interacted more as a neighbourhood and neighbours had a stronger connection – a process that has fortunately already began.

“I believe neighbourhoods already do Block Watch, but this allows people to be registered so we are aware of who is involved and where crime is occurring,” she said.

Interested captains must first obtain a criminal record check at the local detachment, after which they are verified, they are then assigned to canvass their neighbourhood to receive at least five interested households to participate in the program.

Active Block Watch groups all over Sooke would certainly alleviate some of the pressure on the local RCMP detachment, which is already running at capacity, said Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur.

Running at the same manpower, McArthur pointed out that patrols can be difficult when call volume increases, making such a civilian-run program a benefit for everyone.

“Block Watch is more about people taking control of their neighbourhoods and knowing who should be there, who shouldn’t be there and contacting the police when there’s suspicious activity,” he said.

Those interested in taking part can contact Const. Sam Haldane at 250-642-5241.