Neighbourhood Watch schemes can play an important part in creating safer communities by reducing crime and the fear of crime.
Creating safer communities
Hampshire Constabulary is committed to supporting the development of schemes throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and particularly in areas with identified crime problems.
We will encourage the formation of associations, constituted to support and develop Neighbourhood Watch schemes, and will work in partnership with these voluntary associations to achieve objectives.
Visit the Neighbourhood Watch Association website, which has links to a number of local schemes. To find out if there already is a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, you can also type in your postcode on the crime mapping website CrimeReports.
Our objectives in supporting and assisting Neighbourhood Watch schemes are:
- Enhanced community spirit and closer liaison between police and public.
- Heightened public awareness of the need for security.
- Reduction in crime opportunities.
- Reduction in the fear of crime.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are formed by groups of neighbours, one of whom is identified as the scheme co-ordinator. Although there is no prescribed number of households required to make up a scheme, it should be limited to a manageable size so that the co-ordinator can liaise with each household on a regular basis.
Aims of Neighbourhood Watch
The main aims of Neighbourhood Watch schemes are:
- For residents to reduce opportunities for crime and make it more difficult for the would-be thief, vandal or criminal to act in their neighbourhood.
- To build a community spirit so that neighbours can work together for everybody's benefit.
- To pass on information to the police about any suspicious incidents occurring in the neighbourhood.
While schemes can exist independently, Hampshire Constabulary recognises the benefits of creating a structure for Neighbourhood Watch, which empowers members to take greater responsibility for the administration, servicing and development of schemes.
Wherever possible, this structure should mirror that of the police division because this is likely to make for the most effective use of available police resources.
In most of the police divisions, Neighbourhood Watch schemes have developed into associations which represent, support and develop other schemes.
In addition, there is a Hampshire Neighbourhood Watch Association with elected volunteers representing local associations. It meets regularly with Hampshire Constabulary staff.
Beat officers are responsible for maintaining regular contact with the Neighbourhood Watch schemes on their beat.
This can best be achieved by identifying beat co-ordinators, who are prepared to meet regularly with the beat officer and be responsible for passing information between the beat officer and individual scheme co-ordinators.
Although the aims of an association should meet the local needs and aspirations of members, the following objectives should be common to all associations:
- Maintenance of an accurate database of schemes.
- Support the setting up of new schemes.
- Create and support a communications network via which information can be passed to individual members.
- Organise Neighbourhood Watch meetings within the division as required.
The Hampshire Neighbourhood Watch Association has published a handbook for co-ordinators which provides further guidance.
Setting up a new scheme
Once the potential for a Neighbourhood Watch scheme is identified, the local beat officer will make contact with the prospective co-ordinator.
Where a local association or Neighbourhood Watch group has been formed, they will also be asked to contact the co-ordinator.
The prospective Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator will arrange a meeting for potential members. Police premises may be used when no other facility exists.
The local beat officer will attend these meetings whenever possible. Other officers, including members of the Special Constabulary, may attend to assist.
If you would like more information about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area then contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods team. Click here to find out who your local officers are.