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How to get involved with Neighbourhood Watch   

Throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK people are uniting to tackle crime in their neighbourhoods. The Neighbourhood Watch scheme is one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention initiatives ever devised in the UK, with almost 160,000 schemes operating throughout the country. They are an excellent way for people in an area to get together to help prevent crime and make their neighbourhood a safer place.

On this page:

What does the role involve?
What will I get out of this?
What will I be expected to give back?
What skills do I need?
How much time should I expect to give?
How do I get involved?

What does the role involve?

Neighbourhood Watch is based on the simple idea of people looking after one another and their neighbourhood. The focus of Watches is the area around where members live, and the size and scope varies dependent on the are and on what local people want.

As a member of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme you have the opportunity to take action by getting together with other people and working partnership with the police to reduce crime in your area.

There are two main volunteer roles within Neighbourhood Watch:

  • Volunteer Co-ordinator - Neighbourhood Watch is generally led by a volunteer co-ordinator whose job is to get people working together and make sure things get done.

  • Committee member - in addition to a co-ordinator, each scheme has a committee who meet regularly to plan which problems to target and what action to take.

  • Neighbourhood Watch schemes rely on local people becoming involved. As an individual member you can decide how active you want to be, from getting involved in running the scheme to simply keeping an eye on your neighbour’s house while they are on holiday.

    What will I get out of this?

    Running a scheme means that you don’t have to wait for other people to solve all your problems. Well-run schemes can have a positive impact on local crime and help to create communities that care about the people who live there. The activity of scheme members can promote new community spirit and a belief in local people’s abilities to tackle problems. It can help to bridge social divides, for example by showing that you, as a LGBT person, are a community member who cares about your local area.


    What will I be expected to give back?

    Anyone can play a part in a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, however small. If you want to become involved as an individual member, the minimum commitment simply involves being alert and observant when out and about in your neighbourhood. Your scheme may have a more visibly active presence in the community, and as a member you may be expected to take part in regular patrols in your area.


    What skills do I need?

    You don’t need any specific skills to get involved with your local neighbourhood watch scheme. However, the following qualities are important:

  • reliability
  • vigilance
  • commitment to community safety

    If you want to take on the role of establishing a scheme in your area then the following qualities and skills are also important:

  • organisational skills
  • the ability to “sell” the idea of Neighbourhood Watch to the people in your area
  • willingness to get things done
  • ability to motivate others and delegate tasks
  • enthusiasm

    How much time should I expect to give?

    That depends on your role within the scheme. If you are starting out then you should commit to as many hours as you can every week, as your time will be spent distributing leaflets and talking to neighbours. However, if you are get involved in an established scheme, you should expect to give a few hours (probably one evening) each week.


    How do I get involved?

    Your local police station should be able to tell you if your area is covered by a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. They should also be able to give you details of the person to contact to get more involved.

    But my area doesn’t have a Neighbourhood Watch scheme!

    Well, you can consider setting one up yourself. The National Neighbourhood Watch Association can send you an information pack and your local police station will also be able to help you.

    What steps to take:

  • you will need to ask your neighbours if they also want to set up a scheme. You could do this through organising a public meeting or distributing a questionnaire.
  • if your neighbours agree then the police will register you as an official scheme and supply you with window stickers and street signs (you should contact your local council for permission to erect Neighbourhood Watch signs)
  • the police will also supply you with crime prevention literature you can circulate in your area
  • it may also be a good idea to meet with people who run schemes nearby to learn from their experiences

    Useful Contact

    National Neighbourhood Watch Association
    18 Buckingham Gate
    SW1E 6LB

    tel: 0207 963 0160

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