Elstree has become the first place in the whole of Hertfordshire to have almost all of its households signed up to a neighbourhood watch scheme.

Nearly 2,000 households in the village have signed up to Online Watch Link (OWL) - a crime prevention scheme which gives people important updates about crime in their area.

The record set by Elstree villagers is mostly down to the hard work of the village's police community support officer, John Hainsworth.

In his two years in Elstree, PCSO Hainsworth has spent hours walking the streets, knocking on every door, and encouraging them to sign up to OWL, as well as give them tips on how to keep their property safe.

In April 2018, 670 homes were signed up to OWL in Elstree. The number is now at 1,781.

When you compare the number of homes signed up to OWL to the population of a village or town, there is nowhere in Hertfordshire higher than Elstree with more impressive numbers.

Among the 1,781 signed up is High Commissioner in the UK for Equatorial Guinea, Her Excellency Maria Jesus Diallo Besari.

The OWL scheme appears to be working too in Elstree - no burglaries were recorded in the village for 115 days - between September 4 2018 and December 28.

Chief Superintendent Richard Liversidge said: "PCSO John Hainsworth is a real asset to Elstree and everyone knows him.

"He is making a positive difference. People signed up to OWL seem to have a more community focussed mindset which helps to keep our communities safer.

"We hope more people sign up across the rest of the county and act on any crime prevention measures."

OWL is a free messaging system where residents can sign-up via www.owl.co.uk/herts to receive local news about what is happening in their neighbourhood as well as limited relevant force-wide news.

Typically messages will alert members to burglaries with relevant crime prevention advice, local missing people and car thefts.

Sue Thompson, chairman of Herts Watch, added: “However, in the current climate, we are also able to use it to let residents know about fraud and how to keep young people safe from online abuse.

"We are also sharing force messages about the new laws enabling officers to force residents to go home if they do not comply with the rules of staying at home.

"It’s very simple – we can reach large sections of the community at the click of a button."