Neighbourhood Watch faces expulsion for breaching non-political stance

Image: Neighbourhood Watch logo
Image: Neighbourhood Watch

A Neighbourhood Watch is facing expulsion for “failing to meet its responsibilities as a charity” by continuing to post articles about Bedfordshire’s PCC, the Neighbourhood Watch Network has claimed.

This followed a letter sent last week by Cheryl Spruce, Neighbourhood Watch head of membership & community engagement, England and Wales, to Luton Neighbourhood Watch (NHW).

She wrote that the chair of Luton NHW had been written to “several times” relating to the publication of several articles on its website about the Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner.

“We have stated that the articles need to be removed as they breach Neighbourhood Watch’s non-political stance and are highly inappropriate to be published on a Neighbourhood Watch platform for several reasons which have been conveyed to the chair,” she said.

“We have had no response from the chair, despite our requests to do so.

“If the articles are not removed immediately, we will have no choice but to remove Luton Neighbourhood Watch from the Neighbourhood Watch organisation,” she added.

“We would support the right of any individual to state their view and publish this but not in the name of Neighbourhood Watch or on a Neighbourhood Watch platform.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) contacted Luton NHW asking if it would remove the articles and if it believes that the threat of removal would be carried out.

It did not respond at the time of publication.

A spokesperson for Neighbourhood Watch Network told the LDRS that it is “saddened that the leadership of Neighbourhood Watch in Luton are failing to meet their responsibilities as a charity”.

“Neighbourhood Watch in Luton continues to post articles regarding the Bedfordshire PCC. We are concerned that doing this under the banner of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme via a website that bears our logo is not acceptable.

“It clearly breaches our obligations as a registered charity to be politically independent and risks damaging the reputation of all other local associations, as well as the national charity.

“This is even more the case during a pre-election period and breaches the guidance provided by the Charity Commission on what charities may or may not do at this time.

“This guidance clearly states that ‘charities must not support or oppose a political party or candidate,'” they said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter