SETTING UP A NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH SCHEME
The first step
If you are interested in setting up a scheme, the first step is to speak to your neighbours and find out if they are also interested. The more residents there are who want to get involved, the more successful a scheme will be. But not everyone in a street or neighbourhood needs to join a scheme for it to work. It will work as long as there are enough residents to keep an eye out for each other’s properties and to liaise with the police.
Working with the Police & Association
The closer the links with the police, the more effective a scheme will be, so we recommend you contact your local Policing Team to let them know you are interested in starting a NW scheme. You can find their details in www.police.uk. The exact process for starting a scheme varies across England and Wales, so you should also get in touch with your Neighbourhood Watch Association and they will let you know what to do next.
Each scheme has a Co-ordinator who acts as the key contact point for the scheme. They liaise with the police, scheme members and the general public, for instance, people who are interested in joining the scheme, as well as non-member residents when necessary. A scheme may have more than one Co-ordinator as long as members and police know who the key contacts are. The Co-ordinator ensures a smooth flow of information and communication between the police and scheme members.
Size & dispersal of your scheme
There are no hard and fast rules about the size of a NW scheme. This can vary depending on the geography of the area. A good rule is to think about which houses can see each other, so that they can keep an eye open for any suspicious activity. But some schemes don’t fit into that model, such as long straight roads, blocks of flats and rural areas where houses are widely spaced, so choose what works best for you.
Here are some things to think about when setting up your scheme:
- What is the main aim of your scheme? (eg. is there a specific problem you are setting up the scheme to address?)
- Do you need a deputy or a second Co-ordinator?
- Do you need to set up a small committee?
- Do you need to appoint a treasurer?
- How will you cover costs of running the scheme (eg. newsletters, meetings etc)?
- How will you raise funds if needed?
- How will you communicate with members?
- How will you communicate with the Police?
- Will you produce newsletters? If so, how often and who will produce them?
- How often will you meet and where?
- How will you deal with new requests for membership?
Activities and partnerships
Traditionally, Neighbourhood Watch activities have focused on the immediate vicinity of homes, with members looking out for anything suspicious and helping their neighbours. However, more and more schemes are broadening their work to target a range of other problems such as anti-social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti. When links are made with other local schemes and wider alliances are formed, the membership can become a powerful voice within a community and get actively involved in problem solving.
Neighbourhood Watch is well known to help reduce burglary, anti-social behaviour, doorstep crime and environmental problems. But criminals are no longer constrained by geographical boundaries, and in recent years there has been a steady rise in fraud and cybercrime. Neighbourhood Watch is in a strong position to help tackle this kind of crime as well, by being a trusted source of information and support for those who might be vulnerable. Victims of fraud and cybercrime might be embarrassed to confide in their families, or worry about losing their independence, and may not know that a crime has been committed or feel that they can’t report it to the police. This is where Neighbourhood Watch members and Co-ordinators can help.
As well as the police, Neighbourhood Watch schemes may also work with other agencies within their areas who have an interest in reducing crime and building stronger communities. These may include Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs), and Fire and Rescue services. You might also want to link up with other community groups like Resident Associations and special interest or cultural groups.
For more information please contact Mike Tagg on 01579 384552