How to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

Anyone who’s been burgled will tell you how devastating it can be.

I’m lucky (and I’m touching wood as I write) because I’ve never been a victim of this crime. But plenty of friends and colleagues have related tales of financial pain, the loss of irreplaceable and sentimental items and, perhaps worst of all, the sense that their home has been violated.

I’ve even heard – as I’m sure you have – of people who have moved because they just can’t cope with living in a property that’s been robbed and ransacked.

So anything that helps to keep the burglars at bay is worth a look…and one good place to start could be a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Watching brief

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are local initiatives which encourage residents to be vigilant, reporting suspicious activity and generally looking out for others in the area, which is usually confined to three or four residential streets or perhaps an estate or a village.

There’s an estimated 150,000 such schemes across the UK, covering upwards of six million people – so the first thing to do is check whether there’s already a Neighbourhood Watch in your area.

Joining a scheme

If there is, you can simply go along to a meeting or get in touch with the co-ordinator.

You can contact organisations such as Neighbourhood Home & Watch, the UK Neighbourhood Watch Trust or Neighbourhood Watch Scotland – their websites allow you to punch in your postcode and see the location of existing schemes in your neck of the woods.
Alternatively, you can contact your local authority or police force for details of schemes near where you live.

Setting up a Watch

If there isn’t a scheme in your area, or you would like to set one up in a smaller area, the good news is you can do it yourself – and at no cost. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how:

  1. Contact the police: They’ll get you started and send a crime reduction officer to your inaugural meeting – a welcome injection of authority.
  2. Contact one of the national organisations mentioned above: They’ve got stacks of practical guidance on their websites.
  3. Contact your neighbours: Using leaflets and posters will generate interest in the concept.
  4. Organise a start-up meeting: Successful schemes enjoy active participation from a high proportion of people in the area so start with this message in mind.
  5. Publicise your scheme: The police or your local authority will provide you official signage and window stickers.
  6. Maintain momentum: As with any such initiative, it can be difficult to sustain involvement and commitment, so look for someone to join you in being the driving force.
  7. Monitor performance: The police will provide regular updates of local crime statistics, so in due course you’ll be able to gauge any impact your scheme has on burglary rates – potentially a great recruitment tool in attracting more members.
  8. Share your experience: Once your scheme is up and running you can join the online community of Neighbourhood Watch schemes to pool ideas and information and improve the overall performance of your scheme.

Other Watch initiatives

In addition to domestic Neighbourhood Watch schemes, you can join (or establish) Watches for any like-minded group. For example, schemes devoted to businesses, farms, horse-owners or schools.

Boosting home security

In addition to joining a Neighbourhood Watch, there are a number of other steps you can take to make your home more secure, such as fitting (and using!) top-grade door and window locks, alarms and security lighting.

Many home insurers will also reward you for being security-conscious by offering a 5%-10% discount on the annual cost of your contents premium. You can check deals and premiums at our dedicated channel.

In this video, security expert Graeme Dow explains how you can protect your family and your property.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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