PARTNER agencies are stepping up efforts to help protect allotment holders from becoming victims of crime.
Allotment Watch run by Hartlepool Borough Council aims to reduce theft, arson and anti-social behaviour.
The initiative is being launched with a series of roadshows across town in the coming weeks to dish out advice and support for plot holders.
Joanne Taylor, Hartlepool council’s environmental projects officer, said: “Working in partnership with allotment holders and the police, fire brigade and other organisations, we are determined to do everything we can to help protect the town’s allotments against crime.
“We hope as many tenants as possible will drop into the roadshows and give their support to Allotment Watch – the more people who are involved, the more secure our allotment sites will be.”
The council says its allotment team is working closely with Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to stage regular patrols and is also with Cleveland Fire Brigade to identify potential arson risks such as stockpiles of dry wood or other flammable material.
Environmental enforcement officers will be touring allotments in the coming weeks and offering to security mark tenants’ property.
Crime prevention officers and Victim Services Officer Lorna Hilton will also be taking part in the initiative.
In February, arsonists went on a wrecking spree torching 10 allotment plots on two different sites just minutes apart.
Ten sheds were set alight at Haswell Avenue and Brierton Lane in Hartlepool.
In December last year, the Mail reported how raiders broke into at least a dozen allotments at Hartlepool’s Brierton Lane site.
The next roadshow is at the Nicholson Field Allotments, off Dowson Road, on Wednesday, August 14.
It will then visit Stranton Allotments on Wednesday, August 28; Haswell Allotments on Wednesday, September 11; and Throston Allotments on Wednesday, September 25.
All take place between 1.30pm and 3.30pm when allotment holders can drop in.
Tenants are also being encouraged to sign up to networks including the Ringmaster phone messaging system, and the council’s allotment Facebook page where they can share security tips and receive warnings of break-ins or prowlers.
For more information about Allotment Watch visit www.facebook.com/hartlepoolallotments or call the council’s Allotments Team on (01429) 523406.