Community safety and security

Neighbourhood Watch sign on a door window

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Moving to a new place can make you feel alone and helpless. As a newcomer, you must know that all residents in the province have the right to feel secure and protected, and that there is help you can readily avail when you need it.

Here are a few things you should take note of to ensure safe, pleasant and hassle-free living in your community:

Safety basics

Just like with your health, prevention is the wisest step to take. Make a security audit and check your home for:

  • working door and window locks, and security alarms (burglar and fire). For more fire safety tips read: Fire safety tips for newcomers
  • check if you have a clear and readable house number, as well as proper lighting on your street (so that the police or ambulance can easily locate you in case of an emergency)
  • ensure that there are no hidden entrances or cracks to your home that you are not aware of that may leave you vulnerable
  • do not leave clutter or equipment lying around in your backyard or garage (and make sure that your garage door can be locked)
  • make sure to have emergency numbers on hand, such as the police, fire department or nearest hospital for emergencies. For imminent danger, call 911

It would be best to know the neighbors around you and for them to be familiar with you. In most Manitoban communities, neighbours watch out for each other and help keep the community safe.

The Neighbourhood Watch

Many communities keep safe through a proactive program called Neighbourhood Watch. It works with the involvement of member volunteers who keep watch out for any irregular activities in the neighbourhood to prevent break and enters and other property crimes. Members report any suspicious person to the police at 204-986-6222 or if they see a crime in progress, they can immediately call 911. To know if your community has this program, look out for the Neighbourhood Watch logo which is usually on posts, on your neighbour’s yard or on windows as a decal or sticker. The best way to know is to ask your neighbours and find out who the Block Captain is if you want to get involved.

Child safety

Never leave young kids unattended at home. If your children are 12 and older, make sure first that they are ready to be left alone unsupervised. It is always good to prepare them beforehand with drills and practice situations (“what do you do when someone you do not know calls on the phone or rings the doorbell and you are alone?”). Set a plan so that they will know what to do in case of an emergency (for other safety tips, read Tips for keeping your kids safe).

The websites Cyber tip .ca and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s Kids in the know are great resources for you to be better informed and learn more techniques to keep your kids safe from online and real world dangers.

Frauds and scams

There are fraudsters and scammers anywhere in the world, and sad to say there are some in Manitoba. These unscrupulous individuals may contact you by knocking on your door, by telephone, via mail or email. An example of this illegal activity is the CRA phone scam. Read about it from this CBC news article: ‘Big game changer’: CRA phone scam revs up as fraudsters start calling cellphones (by Chris Glover, Sept. 1, 2016).

The best way to counter scams and frauds is to be always vigilant and informed. Read about such operations from Winnipeg 311, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and subscribe to consumer alerts by email at the Manitoba.ca site. If you are victim of fraud, you can report it to the Winnipeg Police Service at 204-986-6222 or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (Phonebusters) toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or go to their website.

Safe online practices are also important to learn as we increasingly use the internet for a number of transactions. Read 5 tips for online safety to know more.

Complaints

If you feel that you cannot resolve an issue on your own and talk to the other party (either because of language, cultural differences, or simply fear for your safety) and need help with any neighborhood issues such as noise, graffiti, or illegal acts, you can call your nearest police station or the Winnipeg Police Service (204-986-6222). Under the Manitoba Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, complaints are kept confidential and are investigated by Manitoba Justice.

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Community Resources

If you are in Winnipeg, it would be good to be familiar with the Neighborhood Livability By-law, which lists regulations regarding most issues on community life such as yard maintenance, garbage, walls, foundations and gutters (house structure), noise, and others. You can download a copy from Winnipeg 311.

Read the Canadian Consumer Handbook to become a better informed and more confident consumer.

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