Business Watch program benefits all
The Business Watch program has been running in the city for the past two years, although the Neighbourhood Watch Program spin-off didn't enjoy much success in its beginning stages. With few members and no clear plan, the Business Watch program didn't find its legs until late 2011 when, Program Coordinator Deborah Teerhuis said, "the number of active members multiplied by 200."
Since this past fall, when Teerhuis was hired as a full-time Program Co-coordinator, the program has really taken off. "We're setting out to encompass as much of the city of London and encourage all merchants to join our program," she said.
She said that one of the goals is for London to become safer, more secure and more inviting to investment from foreign companies. The program is meant to benefit London business owners, consumers, law enforcement workers and the economy as a whole. With more eyes and ears watching businesses, it should be easier for police officers to deal with and prevent crime.
The program works much like its parent program, Neighbourhood Watch. Businesses that join the Watch program display a Business Watch London sign in the front of their store or company. The businesses in the area that are involved in the program report suspicious activity to London Police. Police keep in contact with the businesses to ensure security. Teerhuis said Business Watch London hopes to help create crime prevention awareness by "involving more members of the community and having police, businesses and neighbours working together."
Interim Executive Director Chris Olech said, "We've taken the neighbourhood watch model and we're using the same model, but for the commercial sector." He believes the model is good for both business owners and creating a safe community network.
Neighbourhood Watch London is a non-profit organization that has been working in London for more than 28 years.
The dedicated and enthusiastic team of organizers looks to encourage assistance between program members, increase crime prevention awareness and train members to recognize criminal activity. They also promote the idea of the "O.A.R.S." initiative: Observe, Acknowledge, Report and Share — the basic steps members of Business Watch London are encouraged to take.
Teerhuis said that London Business Watch is always looking for volunteers to help spread the word and run the program. Visit neighbourhoodwatch.london.ca or call 519-661-4533 for more information.