What is Neighbourhood Watch?
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are community initiatives that are supported by the police but are owned and run by their members.
|‘Getting together with your neighbours to reduce local crime and disorder in the bid to make your neighbourhood a safe and better place to live, work and play’.|
Individual schemes have different characteristics, depending on the area in which they are situated and their objectives. The Association of Chief police officers (ACPO) supports schemes that are organised and run in a non-discriminatory manner at local, area and county and national level. Neighbourhood Watch is one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention schemes. It is based on simple ideas and values that are shared by many people around the country. Neighbourhood Watch works by developing close liaison between households in a neighbourhood and the local police. It aims to help people protect themselves and their properties and to reduce the anxieties of becoming a victim of crime by means of improved home security, greater vigilance, accurate reporting of suspicious incidents to the police and by fostering a community spirit and good relations. It brings local people closer together with common goals; to tackle crime and disorder and to keep an eye on each other’s property.
The aims of Neighbourhood Watch schemes are:
- To reduce the opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour to occur in your neighbourhood by deterring would-be burglars and vandals.
- To build a community spirit so that all residents can contribute towards the protection of their property through co-operation and communication.
There are also other benefits of joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. For example, you can learn more about crime prevention and home security which will help keep your home and belongings safe. You might also get a discount on your home insurance. Members of Watch schemes are not vigilantes. Patrolling the streets is a job for the police; they will act upon the information supplied by residents. Watch schemes are not police-run groups. However, in order to be effective in tackling crime, schemes have to work in partnership with the police (and other agencies). By letting the police know of anything suspicious that you see or hear, you are helping to reduce the opportunities for crime to occur. The more difficult it can be made for the criminal, the more likely it is that crime can be reduced.
Role of Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator
The role of a Watch co-ordinator is a voluntary one, and should take only a few hours a week if all the members of the scheme play their part in a responsible way. The aim is to set up and maintain a scheme within a specific neighbourhood, and work closely with the Watch Liaison Officer at Ashford Police Station. Each co-ordinator may develop specific ways to run the scheme, but the main role is:
- Receive crime information from the police and cascade it to members
Publicise the scheme
Welcome new residents to the neighbourhood
Maintain close links with Ashford Police station and local PCSO
Encourage members to be vigilant and report suspicious characters or incidents to the police.
Circulate updates and electronic links to useful websites.
Encourage members to put crime prevention measures into practice, such as home security.
Try to ensure that there is someone nearby to check on vulnerable residents and provide advice to members about dealing with callers at the door.
Hold or host meetings or give presentations and talks eg at Parish Assemblies
- In Egerton, the co-ordinator is also willing to:
support people in the village who are trying to locate missing pets or farm animals by circulating details on the Egerton NW email network
- circulate information received from people in the village who have already been in touch with the police about an incident, with a view to giving warnings or advice
- run a stall at the farmer’s market every now and then with the local Police Community Support Officer (Paul Moorey) to promote the Scheme and issue leaflets and other material relating to home or personal security
Role of members of a local Neighbourhood Watch (NW) scheme
The Egerton co-ordinator will be drawing up a list of households in each road in Egerton, so that those who are not on the NW email list can be identified. Then the nearest NW member who is on email will be asked to contact individual households and find out if they have an email address or not and encourage them to joint the Egerton scheme:
- if they are not on email, ensure that in future they are given telephone messages or paper messages issued by the co-ordinator, or
- if they are on email, encourage them to add their email address to the co-ordinator’s list to receive information direct
- That apart, the role of the individual members of a scheme is:
- To receive information and alerts from the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator and act on them
To cascade information and alerts to neighbours who are not on the internet
To report suspicious matters direct to the police, and copy the information to the NW co-ordinator so that he/she may circulate it to the others in the local NW group
Encourage more people to join the local group, by email if possible
Take an interest in police matters e.g. by attending the mobile police station when it is in Egerton or take part in other police initiatives advertised via the co-ordinator