1- Neighbourhood Watch is a very important element in the community policing strategy
2- Neighbourhood Watch members are the eyes and ears of the police and the community,
3- Neighbourhood Watch is a commitment to a) improve home and neighbourhood security. b) To be concerned about the neigh-
bourhood, your neighbour's property as well as your own. c) To stay in touch with your neighbours in order to advise them of new
neighbourhood watch developements, the crime situation in the neighbourhood, etc and d) To report suspicious persons or activi-ties.
Home security is an issue that affects everyone. As crime rates increase, many people are turning to more proactive crime prevention methods. Besides installing home alarm systems, security cameras and the like, citizens are organizing their very
own neighbourhood watch groups. Just, what, exactly is a neighbourhood watch group and what do they do, you ask? Neighbourhood watch, also called crime watch or neighbourhood crime watch is simply an organized group of people who are dedicated to prevent crime within a neighbourhood. In the US The idea stems from the town watch of colonial times, when villagers and townspeople would set up watch towers to keep an eye out for any incoming dangers, and night watchman patrolled the streets in the name of home security. It developed later on in the second half of the 60's as a response to a crime committed
in New York, in which a young lady was raped and killed while a dozen witnesses did nothing to prevent it from happening.
A neighbourhood watch is an excellent way to prevent and deter crime from occurring within your community. Neighbourhood watches may be organized privately amongst homeowners, or through a neighbourhood or community association. These are not vigilante groups; they are, however, meant to keep crime off community streets.
The Town watch program is similar to that of the Neighbourhood watch, the major difference is that the Town Watch tend to acti-
vely patrol in pseudo-uniforms, i.e. marked vests or jackets and caps, and is equipped with two way radios to directly contact
the local police. The Town Watch serves as an auxiliary to the police which provides weapons (if any), equipment, and training.
Starting a neighbourhood watch program is an effective, proactive way to fight crime and protect your home, family, and possessions. Neighbours who join forces to monitor activity in their area typically experience a lower rate of crime and a higher instance of convictions when crimes do occur. By working together with police and other law enforcement officials, communities
with neighbourhood watch programs create a safer, more closely-knit place to live for families in their area. Starting a new watch program is easier than you may think; police departments often have programs in place to help communities institute such programs more easily.
The first step is to determine the area your neighbourhood watch group will be responsible for. Subdivisions, city blocks, and apartment complexes can be used as natural delineations for a watch group; typically, no more than twenty to thirty homes
should be involved to begin with.
Once you've decided on the area to be covered by your new watch group, you should contact your local police department. Generally, the police department will assign a crime prevention officer to serve as a liaison to your group; this officer will help you organize your neighbourhood, advise you on the best methods and practices for meetings and activities, and take any reports generated by your neighbourhood watch program once it is in place. The officer will also help you gather crime statistics and research, and may adjust the size of your proposed neighborhood watch area if it is too small or too large to be effective.
Your crime prevention officer may provide you with a list of homeowners in your proposed watch area; otherwise, you may have
to go door-to-door or distribute flyers throughout the area in question. Personal contact is usually the best; by meeting your neighbours directly, you can explain the benefits and purposes of a neighborhood watch and attract more participants. Once your neighbourhood watch has attracted a few members, you'll be surprised at how word-of-mouth can help your small group grow. Registering with the national database for neighbourhood watch programs can also give your group more exposure and provide
an additional level of publicity that can attract new members.
Being a member of a group does not require you to impose street justice. In fact, watch groups are not a form of vigilantism. Neighbourhood Watch programs should be seen as a crime prevention method, not as a license to chase the bad guys, stop a crime in progress, or hunt down the suspects. Being an active member of a Neighbourhood Crime Watch community means that law enforcement and your neighbours will keep an eye on your property, and you will do the same for your neighbours. By your-self, you can't be home all the time, but there is almost never a time that the entire neighbourhood is empty. If you see something suspicious, call 911. Do not rush outside to confront a potential burglar in the act. Don't be afraid to call the police if you think something is going on, whether you are a Neighbourhood Watch member or not.
After you have signed up a number of members, it's time to plan the first meeting; it can be located at a nearby school, church, community center, or simply in your own home, depending on your preference and available facilities. Members should be invited personally, but general announcements can be placed in local grocery stores, church bulletin boards, and as flyers distributed throughout the neighbourhood. Make sure your crime prevention officer will be in attendance at this first meeting; he or she can
give valuable information and advice that will help your neighbourhood watch group fulfill its purpose.
Typically, neighbourhood watch groups have a coordinator (if you started the group, that would be you), a block captain who is responsible for distributing information to watch members, and the members who are the eyes and ears of the organization on a
day-to-day basis. All of these individuals report unusual activity to the crime prevention officer at the police department for action
and advice. Regular meetings can help keep watch groups on task and on target, and ensure that contact information is kept
current and accurate.
Once your neighbourhood watch program is established, you'll want to post signs warning criminals that this neighbourhood is protected and monitored.
Once a burglar or criminal sees the neighbourhood crime watch signs, they are less likely to commit a crime within that neigh -bourhood for fear of being caught too easily by the people who are keeping a watchful eye on the area. Therefore, the signs can
be effective without even having an actual watch in effect. However, if you do have a program like this in place, you should be advertising it with signs and notices to keep criminals at bay.
Neighbourhood crime watch signs are a great addition to any neighbourhood. They come in quite a few types, styles and
designs, but get the same basic point across to anyone who sees them: the community is watching, and you're not going to
get away with crime here. So many people are looking to protect themselves from all the bad that goes on in the world, and
these signs can offer some protection, as long as they are used appropriately and put up where they're needed.
You don't have to have a neighborhood watch to put up these signs. Even if you just want one outside of your home, so that
people are deterred from robbing you or committing other crimes in your area, you can put a sign up and many won't even
Additionally, scheduling regular meetings can help to educate members on activities to watch for and how to spot suspicious behavior. Guest speakers can even give tips on how to burglar-proof your home and improve security community-wide. Starting a neighbourhood watch program can be intimidating, but the rewards are significant not only to you, but to your neighbours and the community as a whole.