THE boss of East Lancashire’s Neighbourhood Watches has described the organisation being given a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award a 'welcome boost in a time of crisis'.

Neighbourhood Watch have received the award in recognition of their work as one of the largest voluntary movements in the country.

Neighbourhood Watch has proved effective in the areas it covers with studies showing a 79 per cent decrease in crime where the initiative is in place.

With approximately 170,000 co-ordinators covering 3.9 million households nationally, volunteer community advocates are seen as critical in the fight against crime.

Keith Warren, chairman of Lancashire Neighbourhood Watch Association, said: “The Diamond Jubilee award is a real morale boost for everyone involved because our organisation is suffering greatly from the savage police budget cuts.

"Neighbourhood Watch is the eyes and ears of the community.

“And that applies not just for the police, but for trading standards and for council environmental issues.

“We have a very strong presence in East Lancashire. A recent audit showed 80 active groups in Blackburn alone, covering around 3,000 homes.

“We’ve also seen new groups forming in Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn.

“There are now six police civilian neighbourhood watch liaison officers for the county’s divisions and that has also helped us.

“I’ve been inundated with neighbourhood co-ordinators saying the award has really made them feel valued.

“Volunteers develop community cohesion in their own time and it is this which brings people together to tackle crime issues and anti-social behaviour.”