A NEIGHBOURHOOD watch scheme has been praised by a Wirral MP for its “strong community” links and its defence against crime.

Frank Field MP met with the Birkenhead Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator outside Birkenhead Town Hall to show his support for the newly formed scheme.

He said: “Strong communities are the best defence against crime. I therefore welcome a hundredfold this initiative.”

Neighbourhood Watch was first started in the United States as part of the community’s response to the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964.

The movement made its way across the Atlantic in 1982 when the first group started in Cheshire.

It started out as individual groups of neighbours deciding to keep their eyes open and work with the police to report crime and suspicious occurrences.

It is now one of the biggest voluntary movements in the UK, covering around 3.8 million households.

Birkenhead Neighbourhood Watch covers the wards of Bidston and St James, Birkenhead and Tranmere, Claughton, Oxton, Prenton and Rock Ferry, and aims to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

Scheme co-ordinator Jeff Judge said: “This will create a real sense of community that will help reduce anti-social behaviour and reassure our more vulnerable residents by sharing crime prevention advice. Members could also benefit from reduced home insurance costs.”

Residents of Birkenhead are encouraged to join this free scheme by visiting birkenheadnw.co.uk or calling 0151 601 5355.