CRIME prevention across the city has taken a hit with Wagga Neighbourhood Watch losing funding for its public liability insurance.
The volunteer-run organisation previously had its insurance covered by the NSW Police Force under the Treasury Managed Fund, which provides comprehensive protection for state government agencies.
While the fund is delivered and managed through iCare under state treasurer Dominic Perrottet, police made the decision about the funding related to Neighbourhood Watch across NSW, an iCare spokesperson said.
This week, the Wagga branch announced that it is seeking new funding for insurance.
Neighbourhood Watch now has no insurance for its own publicly held events, including fundraising barbecues, letterbox drops and anything that needs a certificate of currency.
Wagga's president Wayne Deaner said the decision is a "whack to the community and resources".
"Especially in Wagga. It's not ideal to be sitting on our hands doing nothing when the crime rate is so high," Mr Deaner said.
"The hours we put into this in a week would have some people gobsmacked.
"We're making the community safer as we are the number one crime prevention organisation in NSW."
Mr Deaner said that Neighbourhood Watch branches grew from 20 to 120 in the past five years and that the focus is now on finding solutions.
"We're in constant talks with them [members of parliament] to try and change this decision," he said.
"We've been working quite happily with police for 35 years."
Neighbourhood Watch NSW Incorporated has since been formed and is seeking funding to cover the state with insurance at an estimated $10,000 per annum.
The organisation is looking for a corporate partner, grant or alternative commitment to cover the cost.
Mr Deaner said this state body would strengthen the community to find ways to ensure Neighbourhood Watch can get back to their core activity - crime prevention.
"People will realise that we've been here for 35 years and we're only getting stronger," he said.
"This is going to cement not only Wagga but the rest of NSW into one body that has a more influence over parliament."
President Bill Hackney said they have been lobbying members of parliament in the past two months.
"A state body has more bargaining power to get broader crime prevention happening," Mr Hackney said.
"Without the insurance, it means these volunteers can't do what they are meant to do. We need to find a solution rather quickly so communities can become self-sufficient."
In response, a police spokesperson said: "When members of Neighbourhood Watch are working together with police during a NSWPF organised and run activity, they are covered by the TMF.
"However, they are not covered if participating in a Neighbourhood Watch organised and run activity. On April 5, Neighbourhood Watch organisations were advised of this position."
Wagga MP Joe McGirr said he is seeking clarification relating to the matter and inquiring about other options.
"Keeping our community safe should be our top priority. It is important we continue to support organisations like Neighbourhood Watch, which are striving to help tackle crime and improve security," he said.
A spokesperson for Police Minister David Elliott said it was an operational matter.
- For interested parties in sponsoring and helping Wagga Neighbourhood Watch, you may contact the organisation at firstname.lastname@example.org.