Running a scheme and keeping it going
Setting up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme
Scams and Older People
Child Sexual Exploitation
Loneliness and Vulnerability
Setting aims and desired achievements for your scheme
One of the most important steps when starting up a scheme is to decide on its aims and desired achievements. Here is a simple four-step process for setting the aims and achievements which you would like to see delivered by the scheme.
Identify the concerns
For your NW scheme to be as effective as it can be, your members should answer this question: ‘What do we want to achieve in our street/neighbourhood/estate?’ Think about the specific local concerns you have and how Neighbourhood Watch members can help reduce them. You might also want to look at your area’s crime statistics on www.police.uk or think about who lives in your neighbourhood and how they might benefit from the Watch.
Decide what you can do
Once you have identified the concerns, think about what your Neighbourhood Watch group might be able to do to help resolve them or improve the situation or your neighbourhood. For example, if bicycle theft is a particular problem in your neighbourhood, can you ask your PCSO to organise a local bike marking event?
How can you make it happen?
Think about the resources that will help you to carry out your planned activities. Resources don’t just mean money; they also include things like time, space for meetings, and access to resources such as stationery and printers. Are any of your members willing to host meetings or print leaflets at their homes? Are there other community groups in your area you could work with who have access to resources?
Assess your chances of making it work
Consider whether the resources available are sufficient to help your aims and achievements to be met. Be realistic and focus on things that you can do in your neighbourhood that will be successful.
Each year you should review your scheme to ensure that it is achieving its goals. Start by looking at your original expectations and the activities you decided on.
Depending on the result of your review, you could change your activities and their emphasis to ensure that your scheme remains responsive to the needs of its members. And remember to celebrate your successes; being involved in Neighbourhood Watch builds stronger and safer neighbourhoods and bring people together.
Some things to think about for your new scheme:
This is a community venture. If your scheme is large, or you are intending that it will be particularly active, it might be worth asking members if anyone would act as a second coordinator, or deputy. You might even want to set up a committee from within your members.
Funding and fundraising
If you plan to produce regular newsletters or hold regular meetings in public venues, how will you cover these costs? How will you raise funds if needed? And, if there is likely to be a lot of money passing through the scheme for these activities, do you need to find a volunteer treasurer to keep the accounts? The central support team at Neighbourhood Watch Network provides fundraising information for its members. Details are on the website, www.ourwatch.org.uk, or can be obtained through the Enquiries Service on Enquiries@ourwatch.org.uk
Keeping in touch regularly is important – not just about crime but positive things too. How will you communicate with members? Meetings, email, telephone, social media, apps?
Will you produce newsletters? If so, how often and who will produce them?
How will you communicate with the police and other agencies? Many coordinators hold regular meetings with their local police and/or PCSO.
If you plan to use social media, who will administer it? What constitutes best practice if you use social media channels? (See social media toolkit).
How will your scheme keep an eye out for and engage with vulnerable people within your community?
NW is not just about reducing crime, it’s about building strong, resilient communities, where people know their neighbours and feel a sense of ownership and belonging. Consider organising social events outside of NW meetings, or organising joint events with other nearby schemes. Beyond your own members, you can use local media and social media networks to communicate the work that NW is doing and the effect it is having.
How often will your scheme meet and where?
Meeting are a useful time for getting things done and including everyone’s ideas. It’s helpful to everyone coming to know what will be talked about and so preparing an agenda can be helpful.
The right frequency is key so people want to come along and be involved. Meetings are best when they help you to deliver what you would like to achieve.
Tips for running meetings
No two NW schemes are run the same way – each one depends on the commitment and availability of the coordinator(s), the level of interest of the members and how they prefer to be communicated with, and the size of the group. It may also depend on crime rates in the local area – schemes may be more active just after members have been targeted by burglars or scammers, for example.
Schemes achieve more if their members come together for regular meetings, so here are a few ideas that can help when arranging these:
How to run an effective NW meeting
Ensure that dates, times and venues of meetings are given to members well in advance, and, if possible, kept to a regular schedule.
Ensure the venue is big enough to accommodate everyone, and accessible to people with disabilities, including those with sight problems or hearing difficulties. If it is a small scheme it may be fine to meet in someone’s home, but if a bigger group is expected you may have to borrow or hire a local hall.
Set a clear agenda and if people are expected to prepare anything in advance or expected to contribute anything specific at the meeting, ensure they are aware of this in plenty of time.
Invite people to add discussion items to the agenda if they wish.
Circulate the agenda before the meeting.
Ensure there are enough chairs and provide pens and paper.
Think about how to lay out the room in order to get the best from people – a circle is always best, if possible.
Decide who will chair the meeting, who will set up the venue and organise refreshments, and who will take the minutes.
Try to encourage contributions from as many people as possible – not just the highly vocal usual suspects.
Sometimes you might want to invite a guest speaker – someone of interest or a community group or partner agency you would like to work with.
Make meetings interesting, fun, enjoyable and useful to attend! They may be important but they don’t have to be highly formal.
Provide refreshments before and after meetings so that they become social occasions too. If you have no budget for this, ask everyone to chip in a contribution to cover the cost of their drink and biscuit.
You can find further advice on running meetings here.
Each individual scheme is responsible for deciding where to hang signs and for putting up the signs securely and maintaining them. Formal planning permission should not be required to fit new signs but you should notify your local authority as to the location of each sign and ensure that any fixing equipment complies with their regulations. In some cases, the local police and/or your local area NW Association may have prior agreements with the local authority as to type and fitting of each sign.
Generally, signs should not be illuminated, should be at least 2.2 metres above street level but no higher than 3.6 metres above street level, and ideally placed on concrete and steel lamp columns maintained by the local authority.
If a suitable place to fit a sign cannot be found, consideration may be given to placing in on a post, wall or fencing on private land. Written permission from the landowner is necessary before a sign can be erected in this way.
Neighbourhood Watch street signs must NOT be placed on the following:
Any road traffic sign
Any road traffic signal
Any telegraph, telephone or electricity pole (unless permission has been obtained from the company).
Running a NW scheme in multiple-occupancy buildings
Swedish researcher Erika Sallander has produced a useful guide on setting up and maintaining Neighbourhood Watch in flats and other kinds of buildings with multiple family occupancy – Neighbourhood Watch in Multiple Family Dwellings.
This was produced for the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet) but is equally useful in the UK if the term ‘local authority area’ is substituted for ‘municipality’. The guide is aimed at local agencies rather than individuals, but it contains many ideas and suggestions which you might find helpful, particularly around conducting a survey in advance of setting up a scheme.
Running crime prevention and awareness campaigns
Some NW coordinators are highly proactive in helping their scheme members to be alert to different types of crime that may be going on in their communities. Traditionally, NW has been focused on traditional crimes such as burglary and property theft, but the changing nature of criminal activity has prompted national NW to look beyond these and consider how the network can use its extensive reach to tackle more modern crimes, such as modern slavery, child sexual exploitation, and domestic violence. In 2018 the Home Office funded NW to produce a series of practical Crime Prevention Toolkits that contain all the information you need to protect yourself and your neighbours from a range of new threats. Each toolkit contains a raft of resources such as leaflets, films, template emails, Powerpoint presentations and template campaign plans, that you can pick and choose from to create your own campaign in your local community.
Further information can be found at www.ourwatch.org.uk.
What support is available to NW coordinators and schemes?
Neighbourhood Watch Network (NWN)’
As well as the toolkits mentioned above, NWN provides:
New members’ pack, with posters which can be tailored to include details of your local Watch
Public liability insurance
Enquiries service – commitment to responding to all enquiries within 7 working days (Enquiries@ourwatch.org.uk)
Newsletter, Our News, to keep you informed of what is going on in other areas and celebrating volunteer activity
Annual award to celebrate a nominated Neighbour of the Year
Online shop to help source NW material
Help, support and guidance to coordinators in the absence of an Association or if you require support that your local Association is unable to provide
Force Area or London Borough NW Associations
You should have already contacted your force or borough area Neighbourhood Watch Association – if there is one covering your area – when you set the scheme up. Your local Association is essentially a support committee that provides the following help and assistance to individual schemes:
Support and guidance with setting up and running a scheme
Linking new coordinators with local partners including police and other community and voluntary organisations
Support with any funding needs
Sharing information on local activity, crime trends, resources, opportunities, celebrations
Promoting and co-ordinating the activities of the schemes within the Association
Fostering close working relationships with residents’ groups.
What support can a scheme expect from other agencies, ie police, local authority, trading standards etc?
Information to share with residents relating to crime prevention, suspicious activity and local crime incidents people need to be aware of
Involving NW coordinators in delivering local policing priorities
Funding or resources (such as printing/room use/joint events)
Involvement in public engagement events linked to community resilience, cohesion and safety
Linking in with local isolation reduction initiatives
Police making people aware of NW when they have experienced anti-social behaviour or crime such as burglary or theft from their household
Other Neighbourhood Watch groups
You may want to get together with nearby schemes to form a smaller Association, or just meet or communicate to share good practice. The first step is to make contact with neighbouring coordinators. Then you can decide whether you want to hold regular meetings or stay in touch some other way.
You might also want to link up with other community groups like residents’ associations and special interest or cultural groups.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support – the central support team at NWN, the police and other agencies want to help you.