Every year, more people sign up to form Neighbourhood Watches around the UK. So, what precisely is it and how does it function?
Neighbourhood Watch is a group of residents that work with the police to combat crime and anti-social behaviour in their neighbourhood. In the mid-sixties, the first watches were created in New York. A few years later, efforts were made to expand the movement across the United States.
In 1982, the scheme was replicated in the United Kingdom, and by 2007, it had grown into a national organisation with the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers on board. Its goal is to bring neighbours together, educate them about security and safety, and build communities where criminal activity is less likely, and members are encouraged to report it to authorities.
It now has over 1700 registered schemes in Scotland covering almost 200,000 households and is growing every year.
However, while there are numerous examples of successful neighbourhood watch programmes around the world, studies reveal mixed results when it comes to crime prevention.
According to research, the impact of Neighbourhood Watch on crime is minimal at best, and often non-existent.
Aside from having no influence on crime, it was also discovered that the bulk of neighbourhood watch groups are formed in low to medium-crime regions, rather than in high-crime areas, where they are most needed.
So, why maintain a system that has little or no impact on crime? The primary goal of the Neighbourhood Watch is to strengthen the relationship between the police and the community, rather than to fight crime. A community based on trust and respect results in a society where no one is fearful, vulnerable, or alone in their surroundings.
Instead of analysing more quantifiable factors like crime numbers, researchers discovered something rather fascinating when questioned about people’s impressions of how the Neighbourhood Watch scheme has functioned.
The most significant benefits of the Neighbourhood Watch programme, according to participants, were the creation of a solid relationship between the police and the community as well as community empowerment. The true value of Neighborhood Watch is that it combats the isolation and anxiety caused by crime by forging bonds between citizens and the police and the communities they serve.
Raising public trust in the police and increasing community feelings of safety has been a central part of police reform in the UK in recent years, and Neighbourhood Watch is increasingly seen as a key bridge between the police and local people to establish and maintain trust as it allows direct communication between law enforcement and the general public, often with local authority involvement too.
Neighbourhood Watch shows the importance of monitoring your local area. One way you can monitor your own home is with a home CCTV system from Ultimate Alarms.
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