A new online crime prevention service has launched in Brent.

The borough will benefit from the Online Watch Link (OWL), which connects people through an online information sharing platform.

Those who sign up to the service are connected to various ‘watch’ schemes in their area.

They can then access alerts to possible crimes or scams, as well as to things such as missing people and flood warnings.

Police officers can also send out online messages – appealing for information on a road-by-road basis – and conduct live surgeries through the platform.

Initially used in Hertfordshire, users of OWL saw a 32 per cent drop in burglaries and a 54 per cent reduction in overall crime across the first three years.

Cllr Tom Miller, responsible for community safety at Brent Council, said: “It’s important that we provide local people with information about crime in their area so they can make more informed choices about home security, among other things.

“I hope everybody takes advantage of this new alert system to better protect themselves and to help the authorities in creating a safer Brent.”

The service is being funded by Brent Council, in partnership with the Metropolitan Police in north-west London.

Community groups in neighbouring Harrow have been trying to secure funding for their borough – a licence for OWL costs £3,000 a year.

Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board explained that it is working “tirelessly” to try and get the programme up and running but noted that it all boils down to finances.

It is in contact with Harrow Council and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime about possible support.

The service was devised by Gary Fenton who pointed out that there is clear evidence of its impact in reducing crime.

He said: “OWL makes people feel safer, improves engagement and helps catch offenders.

“It increases public perception of the local police presence and can be used as a mass and direct communications tool.

“Local communities can get involved – and get results. I’ve seen it on numerous occasions and it’s great when things work out.”

OWL is also used in Barnet and was recently introduced to the new west London borough command unit (BCU) covering Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow.