Neighbourhood watch programs bring citizens and law enforcement together in an effort to deter crime and enhance community safety. It is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs there is, tracing its roots back to colonial times in America when night watchmen patrolled the streets.While today’s official neighbourhood watches are far less vigilante in nature than their colonial predecessors, they are widespread. The very first was launched in 1972, and today, more and more Canadian communities across the country have some form of neighbourhood watch program. More importantly, research shows that those neighbourhoods protected by such programs experience a 16 to 26 percent reduction in crime when compared with those that do not.Are you looking to incorporate neighbourhood watch programs to enhance the safety of your community neighbourhoods? If so, please keep reading for some simple tips on recruiting a neighbourhood watch team that can do some serious damage to crime.
Starting a neighbourhood watch
If you’re looking to partner local citizens and law enforcement to reduce the criminal activity in your area, here are some tips:
Get the facts
Before creating a neighbourhood watch, it’s important to gather the facts on neighbourhood-related crime—police reports are a great place to start. Determine what’s happening, when and where. Pinpoint areas that may benefit from a watch program and then find out what the community members think. Develop a short poll that asks residents whether they’ve been victim to a neighbourhood crime and what their perception is about criminal activity in the area. Imprint a link to your survey on Door Hangers and distribute them throughout the area.
Promote the partnership
Once you’ve determined that a particular area or neighbourhood could benefit from a neighbourhood watch, you’ll need to assist in galvanizing support. Perhaps an interested citizen, neighbourhood association member or even a retired police officer would head the initiative. Partner together to organize community informational meetings and even door-to-door recruitment. Provide Post-it® Notes and magnets imprinted with meeting dates, times and neighbourhood crime statistics that can be handed out or left on doors by the watch recruitment team. Providing small giveaways, like Pocket Whistle Key Lights and Round Reflector Lights, will garner interest and promote the cause.
Rally the troops
Now that there is leadership, a team and a room full of interested people, it’s time to take action. Informational sessions should have both a strong presence of law enforcement and community members. Promote the message that you’re all working on the same team to prevent crime and keep area communities safe. Oftentimes citizens feel abandoned by or frustrated with law enforcement—especially if crime in their neighbourhoods has gotten out of hand. Neighbourhood watch programs where law enforcement and citizens unite to define and tackle problems, are most successful. Reinforce you’re in this together with neighbourhood watch apparel, imprinted with the message, “Neighbours and law enforcement standing together to stop crime.”
Tackle the issues … and then tackle some more
Oftentimes, after neighbourhood watch groups conquer their original goals, team members lose interest and the group becomes stagnant. Keep team members engaged by holding regular sessions to discuss what’s happening in the neighbourhood and continue to identify opportunities for improvement. Even activities such as painting over graffiti and cleaning up overgrown, vacant lots can help deter crime. The point being—the job is never done. Be sure to show appreciation and thanks to your dedicated team members with Mini MagLite® Flashlights or Contigo® West Loop Travel Tumblers.
Remember, neighbourhood watch programs are a proven way to enhance the safety of your communities and neighbourhoods. Start yours today by getting the facts, recruiting a team, rallying the troops and tackling the issues. Crime won’t stand a chance!
T. Bennett, K. Holloway, and D. Farrington. “Crime falls with Neighborhood Watch.” The Campbell Collaboration. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Apr. 2014.
“Welcome to National Neighborhood Watch—A Division of the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA).” Neighborhood Watch. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 16 June 2014.