A new crime prevention scheme has been launched in Gosport asking dog owners to be on the lookout for crime while walking their pets.
The project, known as Paws Watch, was started by the Gosport Neighbourhood Watch and has received support from Hampshire police.
The theory behind the plan is that dog owners are walking their pets at high-risk times for crime, such as late at night or early in the morning.
John Gledhill, 54, thought up the initiative.
He explained: ‘The idea is based around the fact that dog walkers are out and about from the early hours of the day to late at night, and doing that you get to become quite an expert in your area.
‘What we wanted to do was tap into this group of people who know their area and get them involved with the Neighbourhood Watch.
‘We are hoping that this can help tackle those problems out in the open.
‘Minor crimes like graffiti, abandoned property and issues where lots of litter is being dropped.
‘There was the situation with Browndown beach earlier this year where there was a lot of rubbish dropped, including a fair amount of hypodermic needles.
‘I think if there were dog-walkers there on the lookout they could have alerted the relevant people sooner.
‘We do not want people to go jumping in as vigilantes,though.
‘It is just asking dog walkers to be a bit vigilant and recognise when something might not be right.
‘If you see something out of the ordinary like an abandoned vehicle that hasn’t moved for three or four days, call up 101 and let someone know about it.’
Sergeant Lesley Meeneghan, of Hampshire Constabulary, said she was fully behind the new initiative: ‘Paw Patrol is a great crime prevention initiative from our local Neighbourhood Watch Team.
‘Dog walkers are frequently out in the early hours or late at night.
‘This is an ideal opportunity to collate community intelligence about what is going on in Gosport.’
Paws Watch members who see any suspicious activity are encouraged to report it calling 101.