What is Neighbourhood Watch?
Neighbourhood Watch is one of the biggest and most successful voluntary crime prevention initiatives. It originated in the United States and in 1982 came to the UK, where it fast became very popular. Neighbourhood Watch is based around the idea of an active community working in partnership with the police, and a shared value focused on bringing local people together. At its most basic level, Neighbourhood Watch consists of a group of like-minded neighbours getting together to help reduce crime where they live and making their communities safer.
Purpose and objectives
The main purpose of Neighbourhood Watch is to help people to protect themselves and their property and improve their local environment.
The objectives of Neighbourhood Watch are to:
For more information, click here for the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (England & Wales) website.
Public Liability Insurance (PLI)
This is available, free of charge, to all Neighbourhood Watch schemes and associations across England and Wales. In 2008 nearly 130,000 schemes were registered for PLI, and more than nine million households are within the areas covered by these schemes.
How does Neighbourhood Watch work?
Neighbourhood Watch works mainly by developing close liaisons between local households and the police. Each Neighbourhood Watch scheme has a different setup and characteristics, depending on the area in which it is situated and its objectives. In other words, Neighbourhood Watch schemes do not follow a set structure. However, most schemes have these important aspects in common:
Remember: Each scheme is a community initiative, supported by the police but not run by them. The scheme’s success depends on what the members make of it.
Schemes should start by finding out from local people what issues worry them the most and focus on a specific problem. By getting a picture of local crime, conducting a ‘fear of crime’ survey and identifying the opportunities for crime, a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can form an action plan to tackle the problem.
Neighbourhood Watch works best where there is a strong relationship between the group and the local police. The police cannot deal with the problems and issues arising from crime and antisocial behaviour alone – they need the help of the community.
Neighbourhood Watch volunteers have an important role to play in sharing information with the police about suspicious events in their area. People really can make a difference to the safety of their community by reporting what they see. Neighbourhood Watch also gives people the chance to get to know and help each other better.
Similarly, the police have a crucial role in sharing information about recent crimes in the area. For example, coordinators can be warned of local crime trends through electronic communication systems, such as Neighbourhood Alert. This enables the coordinator of the local group to warn residents, who then have an opportunity to take appropriate precautions to avoid becoming victims themselves.
Neighbourhood Watch groups may also work with other agencies such as the local authority, Community Safety Partnerships and Trading Standards Services.
Neighbourhood Watch roles
Neighbourhood Watch schemes rely on the involvement of local people. As an individual member you can decide how active you want to be, from taking a part in running the scheme to simply keeping an eye on your neighbour’s house while they are away.
Local schemes are generally made up of volunteers and employees in the police force or other agencies:
If you would like more information about Neighbourhood Watch or are interested to start a Scheme in your area please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Networks website.
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