Chairman of Gwent Neighbourhood Watch resigns over OWL messaging row with police

THE chairman of the Gwent Neighbourhood Watch Association has resigned from his post over a row with Gwent Police about the OWL messaging service.

Ken Oliphant, who has been the chairman since 2012, and a member of the association for the past seven years said he had to resign following a meeting held last week with Gwent Police, the police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston and national representatives from the Neighbourhood Watch.

The Online Watch Link (OWL) messaging system has around 56,000 members signed up across Gwent to receive messages of what's going on in the community by emails, phone or SMS.

The messaging system is a partnership made up of Gwent Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner's Office and the Gwent Neighbourhood Watch Association.

The commissioner's office has been funding the OWL system for the past few years but from April 1 Gwent Police will be moving to a new community messaging system.

Mr Johnston said under procurement rules contractors have to be invited to tender for the delivery of a new messaging system and he had to ensure that the best 'value for money is realised for the people of Gwent.'

Mr Oliphant sited his concern about the transfer of the people's data to a new system as his reason to resign but Mr Johnson said members have no need for any concern relating to the change in service provider and that their data is safe, in line with our stringent data protection policies and procedures

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