NHW is based on the simple philosophy of "getting together with your neighbours to reduce local crime and disorder to make your neighbourhood a safer and better place to live, work and play".
NHW is about building community spirit and good relations, bringing together local people with common goals, tackling crime and disorder and keeping an eye out for one another and on each other's property, working together as the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood, picking up and taking action on anything that could cause concern or worry. It is not about being a 'nosy neighbour' but about being a good citizen and caring for and supporting your community.
Recent UK wide research established that in 79% of cases, NHW was effective at reducing crime compared to areas where no scheme existed and that four out of five people not already in a scheme would join if one was one in their area.
As well as reducing crime there are other benefits of joining a NHW scheme, including opportunities to learn about crime prevention, home and personal security and most insurance companies offer discounts to members of recognised schemes.
A scheme can be of any size, usually influenced by the geography and ease of communication in an area and is led by a coordinator. The local Safer Neighbourhoods Team and district NHW representative provide advice on setting up and registering your scheme together with ongoing support. They also arrange for the provision of area signs as a visible deterrent.
The most effective schemes are those working in close partnership with police and other agencies. The sharing of information about activities in a neighbourhood such as recent crime trends, bogus callers, anti-social behaviour or vandalism, together with details on personal and property security and any current local initiatives; provides the opportunity for members to take appropriate precautions to avoid becoming victims themselves and, through their increased vigilance, obtain and provide useful information to the police. North Yorkshire Police use the system to share such information.
Residents always have a better understanding of their neighbourhood and recognise unfamiliar occurrences, people or vehicles and hear comments of anything suspicious. They do not always appreciate how the police could value this as a missing part of the intelligence jigsaw and a major contribution to improving criminal detection rates, particularly in rural areas. NHW schemes are undoubtedly a deterrent and more schemes to support the police would be very welcome.
The more difficult it can be made for the criminal, the more likely it is that crime can be reduced. In a region with such a large geographical spread as the City of York and North Yorkshire, the police cannot be everywhere all the time so community involvement is critical in achieving this.
For further information or to start a scheme please contact your local or visit Neighbourhood Watch.