The NHW Register
What is the Neighbourhood Watch Register?
It is a register of Neighbourhood Watch coordinators and schemes across England and Wales.
How does it work?
The Register is powered by a piece of software called Neighbourhood Alert, developed by VISAV Ltd.
The software enables people on the Register to edit their own details (and, in the case of coordinators, that of their schemes), choose which licence-holding organisations can see them, and decide whether or not they want to receive communications through the system.
Who are the licence-holding organisations?
Neighbourhood Watch and Action Fraud hold national licences. Locally, 20 police forces hold a licence for their area, with more due to come on board soon. In some areas licences are also held by local authorities and Trading Standards. People can choose who they want to share their details with.
Not all licence-holders refer to it as ‘the Neighbourhood Watch Register’ or ‘Neighbourhood Alert’; many police forces have their own brand name for the site where you register with them, such as ‘In The Know‘ in Lancashire and ‘Ecops‘ in Cambridgeshire.
Why is the Register important and what are the benefits?
Because the Register is used by other not-for-profit organisations, it isn’t restricted just to Neighbourhood Watch coordinators and members. It also accommodates people who aren’t Watch members but who want to be on the communication list for their local police, council etc.
If they decide that Neighbourhood Watch can see their details, this provides an opportunity to engage with community-minded people who might not have taken the plunge to join Neighbourhood Watch but may be interested in future.
The Register allows seamless information sharing between licensed partners – if someone has chosen to share their details with, for example, both Neighbourhood Watch and the police, both organisations can login to the Register and see exactly the same information without it needing to be entered twice on two separate systems or amended twice each time there is a change.
A big benefit to Neighbourhood Watch is the ability to evidence where our schemes and coordinators are, and view them in a user-friendly way by area, on a map or as a list. This provides an evidence base for how many schemes there are and where they are located, enabling resources to be distributed appropriately. It is also key to our credibility as a national movement and negotiations with partners, sponsors and funders to enable us to accrue more resources for the benefit of the movement as a whole.
Communications via the Register can be targeted – people can, if they choose, provide a bit more information about themselves such as demographics, interests and other groups they belong to. This enables messages to be made more relevant to them – e.g. bike theft advice to cyclists, rural crime messages to Farm Watch members etc.
Last but not least, the Register also powers our popular postcode search function on the ourwatch.org.uk website, where members of the public can find and contact their nearest scheme, helping with recruitment locally.
Is personal data secure on the Register?
Yes. All information is hosted in a secure datacentre that meets ISO 27001 standards and all data, including nightly offsite backups, is encrypted by AES 256 algorithm. VISAV Ltd is Cyber Essentials Plus accredited.
Each licence-holding organisation has administrators who can access the Register; administrators are all trained and sign an agreement for appropriate use of the data.
How many people/schemes are on the Register?
As of January 2016, across England and Wales 292,169 people are registered, of whom 39,810 are Neighbourhood Watch coordinators.
This number continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Neighbourhood Watch Scotland and Police Scotland also use the Register software but Scotland is not included in the above figures as NHWN only covers England and Wales.