POLICE chiefs paid a glowing tribute to a Winchester resident following his resignation as Neighbourhood Watch coordinator.

Derek Harper, 79, set up the watch in the St John’s area of the city six years ago and police say crime fell as a result.

Speaking at a recent meeting of coordinators, chief inspector James Fulton, Winchester and East Hampshire District commander, said: “Derek, you are recognized for your fantastic support for Neighbourhood Watch. There is no doubt your efforts have helped reduce crime in Winchester and St John’s, and made it a safer place to live.”

Mr Harper, who lives at St John’s South with his wife Triona, also 79, said he has seen great changes in his area. He cites the establishment of St John’s as a ‘No Cold Calling’ zone and a reduction in anti-social behaviour as particularly rewarding achievements.

Asked why he accepted the police’s invitation to set up the watch, Mr Harper said: “If something is impacting on the right to enjoy your home in peace, then that has to be changed.

“We feel empowered now and we feel we are being listened to and we hope that will continue.”

Sandy Vining, Neighbourhood Watch beat representative for Winchester said: “Derek did brilliantly in setting it up the Neighbourhood Watch in his area.”

Mr Harper has officially resigned but will continue his involvement with the watch until a replacement coordinator is found.