You have probably heard about Neighbourhood Watch or have seen signs advising that Neighbourhood Watch is operating in an area. But what exactly is Neighbourhood Watch and how does it work?
Neighbourhood Watch schemes grew out of a movement in the 1960s and encourage the involvement of residents in activities that promote safety or assist with the prevention of crime. Neighbourhood Watch schemes can cut crime and the opportunities for crime, help and reassure those who live in the area and encourage neighbourliness and closer communities.
Neighbourhood Watch is known across the world by a variety of different names including ‘home watch’, ‘block watch’ and ‘community watch’. It was first introduced into the UK in 1982 and is now the largest crime prevention charity in England and Wales, with around 2.3 million member households and 90,000 coordinators. It’s aims are to reduce incidents of crime, reduce the fear of crime and increase community wellbeing.
An active Neighbourhood Watch increases the risk for criminals, as residents have greater awareness of suspicious activity in their area and are more likely to report this to the police. A 2016 study ‘Equity, justice and the crime drop: the case of burglary in England and Wales’ found that burglaries fell between 1997 and 2007/08 more in Neighbourhood Watch areas than other areas. Interestingly the evidence within these studies relates predominantly to a period before social media was as prevalent as it is today, so it is likely that the methods and impact have been positively affected further by the improved communication channels afforded by social media.
There are Neighbourhood Watch groups dispersed widely across England and Wales, with each group run by a volunteer Coordinator with the goal of making their community and better and safer place to live. These Neighbourhood Watch groups are supported on a regional level by their local Association and on a national level by Neighbourhood Watch Network.
Neighbourhood Watch provide specialist advice, support and guidance, such as toolkits, training and resources to people who want to develop an active Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in their area. This includes training and resources in respect of setting up schemes in areas of high crime and high social disadvantage, ensuring the inclusion of under-represented communities and those who may otherwise be isolated.
People join Neighbourhood Watch for many different reasons, whether it is to improve safety around their home or to become part of a group and meet new people. To find out if there is a Neighbourhood Watch operating in your area, or for more information about establishing a Neighbourhood Watch, visit www.ourwatch.org.uk or contact .