The idea of Neighbourhood Watch isn’t a new one – their distinctive yellow signs can be seen on lamp posts in streets around the country. But if you have never been a member before, you might wonder what it is all about and if joining could be beneficial for your family? Let’s look at some of the most common questions about Neighbourhood Watch to help you decide.
What is a Neighbourhood Watch area?
Neighbourhood Watch uses a structure to help break down the different groups across the UK and the levels that they operate on.
The basic level of the Watch is called groups and these are the ones you would join in your immediate area. They are run by local Coordinators who are volunteers who give their time to run the groups.
Above the group are Associations that cover larger areas and help a number of groups in different ways. Again these are run by volunteers at a local level.
Each regional area is divided into areas that correspond to the police forces that cover them. There’s an overall Central Support Team that works nationally on initiatives and programs.
What does Neighbourhood Watch do?
Each group or Association can have different things that they do but there are a few general points that apply to all of them. The main aims are:
- Ensure members know what to do if there is a crime or an emergency in the neighbourhood
- Work together to make the neighbourhood and larger area safer for everyone
- Promote awareness of others who may need help or assistance in the local area
The old fashioned idea of the ‘nosy neighbour’ is far from the modern idea, instead, the Watch is now about supporting each other and keeping an eye open to help each other out.
How do I know if I’m in a Neighbourhood Watch area?
The easiest way to find out about your local group is to visit the main Neighbourhood Watch website. Here you can enter your postcode and it will show you if there is a group active in your area or where the nearest ones are.
How to join a Neighbourhood Watch group
Once you have found the nearest group that you want to join then the first step to take is to become a member of the Neighbourhood Watch and then you can look to join an existing scheme.
Some areas do use a slightly different system so visit the website and find the one that applies to where you live to get the exact process to join.
How to set up Neighbourhood Watch if there’s no group locally
Sometimes, you may find there’s no group locally for you to join but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start one. You can sign up to become a coordinator and start a group in your area then talk to your neighbours to get them involved.
As a coordinator, you can also be the point of contact for police and local authorities for your area. You can help with criminal or anti-social behaviour issues and help authorities spot local problems. You can be the one that helps build that community spirit with a Neighbourhood Watch.