Estate Security and Neighbourhood Watch
Set up your own Watch scheme
The main aim of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme is to create a partnership between the local community, the police and the local authority.
Neighbourhood Watch started in the UK in 1982. There are now some 150,000 schemes running throughout the UK covering nearly five million households, which makes Neighbourhood Watch the largest voluntary movement in the country.
What can Neighbourhood Watch schemes do?
They can target local crime problems and take action to prevent them. In consultation with the local police they can find out from local people what crimes most concern and affect them and focus on those specific problems.
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. However, more and more schemes are now broadening their range of work. Local problems such as combating anti-social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti are well within the scope of a well-organised neighbourhood watch scheme. You can also take action such as fitting more secure door and window locks in vulnerable homes. You could also lobby the local authority, for example, to improve street lighting or step up the security of a communal entrance.
How to set up and run a scheme?
If you would like to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, contact the Crime Prevention Co-ordinator at your nearest police station, who will give you further information. To kick things off you will want to arrange a meeting between all interested parties in your immediate area and your local police. Try to organise a time for your meeting which would enable as many of your neighbours to attend as possible, including the Crime Prevention Officer, usually on a weekday evening.
When you have decided upon the date and time, circulate all the relevant houses with specially-designed invitation cards or leaflets (usually provided by the local police). Before the meeting, visit your neighbours again, and give them a personal reminder. Otherwise, you may well find that attendance is not as great as you would have wished. Hold the meeting in your own home or one of your neighbours' homes so that the atmosphere will be informal and comfortable. At the meeting, make the opening remarks and briefly explain the purpose of the meeting. After this, the Crime Prevention Officer or local beat office will probably give a brief talk. At the meeting, you can also appoint one person to be the co-ordinator of the scheme. They will get people working together and be the major point of contact for the community and for the police. As well as the co-ordinator there is usually a committee which meets regularly to plan what problems to target and what action to take. Set aims and objectives
Aims and objectives will help focus your neighbourhood watch scheme and can be decided at your first meeting. Working with the police officer, people can find out what crimes most concern and affect them and focus on those specific problems.
Local problems such as vandalism and graffiti are well within the scope of a well-organised Neighbourhood Watch scheme. You can also take action such as fitting more secure door and window locks in vulnerable homes. You could also lobby the local authority, for example, to improve street lighting or step up the security of a communal entrance.
Objectives could include:
- To reduce burglaries and car crime.
- Tackling anti-social behaviour.
- Focusing on vandalism and graffiti.
- Working with other partners to improve the community.
Once you've decided on your aims and objectives, you'll have to decide how action is going to take place. The police will be able to advise you on the best way to achieve this, but you may have other ideas.
It's also important to discuss with other members of the scheme how much time they are willing to put into the scheme to make it work. If you have more time it will mean a better organised and more successful campaign. help focus your.
Keeping the scheme going
For the first six or so months of the scheme, people will be relatively enthusiastic about it. But once your objectives have been achieved, maintaining the scheme becomes slightly more difficult.
There are certain things you can do to keeping the scheme productive.
- Schedule quarterly or yearly meetings to decide on new objectives.
- Involve new residents - it's a great way for them to get to know their neighbours.
- Invite crime specialists along to meetings to talk about issues like burglary, or bogus callers. Ensure that people are continually vigilant and report suspicious behaviour to the police.
- Build up a network of trust between your neighbours. Ask them to keep an eye on your house while on holiday, and to put post through your door. Do the same for them.
Get the neighbourhood involved in other activities such as fund-raising events - or simply organise a get-together with your neighbours such as a barbecue in the summer.
This information was sourced directly form Neighbourhood Watch