What is Neighbourhood Watch?
Neighbourhood Watch is one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention initiatives. Behind it lies a simple idea, and a central value shared by millions of people around the country:
Getting together with your neighbours to take action can cut local crime.
Everyone knows that the police are there to fight crime, but they need your help to do an effective job. Neighbourhood Watch (or Home Watch as it is known in some areas) is all about an active partnership with the police.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes can:
A better place to live, work and play
- cut crime and the opportunities for crime
- help and reassure those who live in the area
- encourage neighbourliness and closer communities.
Neighbourhood Watch is not just about reducing burglary figures - it’s about creating communities who care. It brings local people together and can make a real contribution to improving their lives. The activity of Watch members can foster a new community spirit and a belief in the community’s ability to tackle problems. At the same time, you feel secure, knowing your neighbours are keeping an eye on your property.
There are other benefits to Neighbourhood Watch schemes too. You will become familiar with crime prevention ideas which will help keep your home and belongings safe. And the extra security which belonging to a Neighbourhood Watch scheme offers might even mean that you can get a premium discount from your insurance company.
How schemes work
Neighbourhood Watch schemes can be large, covering, for example most of the households on an estate or they might involve just half a dozen houses. It depends on the area and what people living there want. A scheme is generally led by a volunteer co-ordinator whose job is to get people working together and make sure things get done. As well as the co-ordinator, there is usually a committee. Committees meet regularly to plan which problems to target and what action to take. Schemes keep in close touch with local police to share information and advice. In many areas, schemes are joining together to form County or Police Force associations that benefit from sharing experience and good practice.
What can Neighbourhood Watch schemes do?
A lot. They can target local crime problems and take action to prevent them. Schemes should find out from local people what most concerns them and focus on a specific problem.
These are the key steps to targeting and reducing crime and the fear of crime in an area. In consultation with your local police:
- get a picture of local crime
- conduct a ‘fear of crime’ survey
- target crimes you can have a real impact on
- identify the opportunities for crime
- form an action plan to tackle the problem
- block or reduce opportunities for the criminal.
Most crime is opportunist, committed on the spur of the moment, or when a car or house is left unlocked. This means there is enormous scope for reducing chances for criminals.
Traditional Neighbourhood Watch activity has focused on the immediate vicinity of homes, with members looking out for anything suspicious, or helping their neighbours as necessary. However, more and more schemes are broadening their image of their work.
Targeting local problems such as vandalism or graffiti are well within the scope of a well-organised Watch scheme. You may be able to take action yourselves, such as fitting more secure door or window locks in vulnerable homes, or you may need to get others involved. This could mean lobbying the local authority, for example, to improve the street lighting on your estate or to step up the security of a communal entrance.
Many schemes now work in partnership with other agencies like Victim Support and Help the Aged, and with local crime prevention panels to help reduce the fear of crime.
How can I set up a scheme?
If you are serious about getting involved in Neighbourhood Watch you can contact:
Amersham Watch Office
Amersham Police Station
King George V Road
Tel: 01494 736642
Always dial 999 in an emergency.
For free advice, or to report a
non-emergency crime in Buckinghamshire,
Call 0845 8 505 505