Neighbourhood Watch in England and Wales

An introduction by the chair of the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network.


Review a further introduction by Jim Maddan and ACPO Lead DCC Beckley here

Neighbourhood Watch Scheme Management Tools FAQs

The UK Neighbourhood Watch movement has been around since the 1980s. By 2007 a previous national body had folded and many members felt the need for a new organisation to share best practice and provide a voice for the movement at a national level. A series of exploratory meetings and events were held in each region of England and Wales, involving representatives of Neighbourhood and Home Watch at both force and regional levels. Delegates were invited to discuss and vote on their preferred way achieving a new form of representation at the national level for Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch in England and Wales. Members representing all of the ten regions agreed overwhelmingly that: 
a) They wanted to see a regional and national structure. 
b) They wanted a force area Neighbourhood/Home Watch representative to go to regional meetings. 
c) They wanted a regional Neighbourhood/Home Watch representative and a deputy to go to national meetings. 
After the proposal was accepted by the National Strategy Group for Watch Issues in April 2007, the result was the Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (NHWN). NHWN represents all Home Watch and Neighbourhood Watch members across England and Wales. It is the body that engages with the Home Office and other partners.

Objectives of Neighbourhood Watch

  • To prevent crime by improving security, increasing vigilance, creating and maintaining a caring community and reducing opportunities for crime by increasing crime prevention awareness. 
  • To assist the police in detecting crime by promoting effective communication and the prompt reporting of suspicious and criminal activity. 
  • To reduce undue fear of crime by providing accurate information about risks and by promoting a sense of security and community spirit, particularly amongst the more vulnerable members of the community. 
  • To improve police/community liaison by providing effective communications through Neighbourhood Watch messaging systems which warn Co-coordinators of local crime trends which they can disseminate to their scheme members, and by members informing the police of incidents when they occur.

What is a Scheme?

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are run by their members through a Co-ordinator and are supported by the Police and in many areas a local Neighbourhood Watch Association.  Neighbourhood Watch Schemes vary in size ranging from a few houses to a number of streets, roads etc.  Large Schemes (e.g. comprising more than 10 households) usually have more than one Co-ordinator with an elected lead co-ordinator. Co-ordinators are responsible for administering schemes and for conveying information between scheme members and the Police. 

It is highly desirable, but not essential, that Schemes are democratically based and hold annual meetings for the election of co-ordinators.  A volunteer resident co-ordinator supervises the scheme and liaises with the Police, they receive information and messages to keep them in touch with activities.  Some have smart water or other marker kits, alarms and other security items which are available to members.  It is important to note that a scheme is a community initiative, which is supported by the police, not run by them, so success depends on what the members put in to it. The Police can't deal with the problems and issues arising from crime and anti-social behaviour alone; they need the help of the whole community. Neighbourhood Watch provides a way for local people to play an important part in addressing this balance and making their communities safer.

What does a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator do?

The role of a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator varies across the country, in general the role is to set up and maintain a Neighbourhood Watch scheme within a specific street, neighbourhood or area. The coordinator will be in contact with the crime prevention co-ordinator or beat manager at their local police station who will help clarify what is involved and the initial steps to take. The following are generally recognised as the main duties which co-ordinators manage: 
  • Encourage vigilance amongst scheme members and actively encourage the early reporting of suspicious incidents to the police. 
  • Receive crime information from the Neighbourhood Watch messaging system and distribute these messages to scheme members. 
  • Encourage scheme members to be aware of and put into practice crime prevention measures, such as property marking and security devices. 
  • Keep a check on vulnerable households and provide advice to members about dealing with callers at the door. 
  • Circulate newsletters and other relevant information to scheme members. 
  • Welcome newcomers to the neighbourhood and invite them to be part of the scheme. 
  • Supply each scheme member with Neighbourhood Watch and crime prevention literature, such as Neighbourhood Watch window stickers and incident report cards.
  • Register the scheme on the Neighbourhood Alert system so it becomes available to join on the www.ourwatch.org.uk scheme lookup map.
These are the main tasks which would be expected of a co-ordinator, tasks will vary according to the needs of each individual neighbourhood.

Where should Watch schemes be registered?

Schemes should always be registered with their local association or County organisation.  To enable a joined up approach to this the NHWN are compiling a national online secure database of all recognised schemes and have developed tools to assist local associations to manage their own areas, you can use the database to find your nearest schemes by using the Neighbourhood Watch online directory.  Alternatively browse the huge range of available sites that you can register or join a scheme on by clicking on the map above.

The Neighbourhood Alert system is the official database management tool for the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network and thousands of Neighbourhood Watch coordinators and members are registered throughout England and Wales allready.  An ongoing partnership between the system creators VISAV Limited and NHWN ensures that the tools provided for Neighbourhood and Home Watch members across England and Wales are totally free and are continually developed to support the needs of members. 

Register your own scheme on the NHWN website at www.ourwatch.org.uk or in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Cumbria and Northamptonshire, local Police forces and organisations have commissioned their own interconnecting systems to support the growth of the network and expand the services available through it with a local brand and hands on approach. You will find a comprehensive list of areas with Neighbourhood Alert interactive websites on the service areas page.

My role involves managing many schemes in my area

The system is designed to provide Regional, County and local associations with the tools they need to build support and manage schemes in their area.  Again, these tools are provided without charge and can be accessed by approved members registered with NHWN.  Neighbourhood Watch members at county level dictate who can have access to the tools and the local database based on an agreed criteria.  Contact NHWN on 0116 2293118 to discuss access to the multi scheme management tools, download the Neighbourhood Watch, multi scheme management tools access agreement.  Follow this link to review more information about the multi-scheme administrator tools

Neighbourhood Alert and Neighbourhood watch

Please review the following short presentation regarding the development of the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme tools and the relationship between VISAV Limited and Neighbourhood Watch.


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