Neighbourhood Watch Associations are set to benefit from a new self-assessment tool enabling them to make an informed assessment of how they are performing.
Developed by the Neighbourhood Watch Network (NWN), the tool sets out five potential levels at which an Association could be functioning in each of a range of areas that support NW activity.
Members of Force Area, Borough and District / Area NW associations are invited to use the tool to identify both strengths and areas for development in the way they work together and with their partners.
Associations can then use the tool to develop an action plan to help them best support their coordinators and grow and diversity the Neighbourhood Watch movement – a key aim of the organisation’s three-year strategy.
Jayne Pascoe (pictured above), Head of Projects and Partnerships at the NWN, spearheaded the project.
“We began by identifying the general functions of an Association and matched these with the activities coordinators undertake that Associations have a role in supporting”, she said.
It was a bit of an eye opener to be honest
Lee Roberts, Manager of Merton Neighbourhood Watch
“The different levels are designed to enable the Associations to think about where their priorities are and how they might improve against them – they are not designed to make any judgement about how good the Association is.
“For instance, an Association that does not run any campaigns locally may assess themselves as a level one in this area, whereas an Association using the NWN crime prevention toolkits to campaign may assess themselves as a level five.
“However, if the Association does not currently have the capacity to run campaigns, they may be happy to remain at level one for the time being and work on improving against other priorities.
“While Associations are welcome to share their results with the Central Support Team, their peers or their local partners to identify and source support for improvement plans, there is no requirement to do so. Associations can use the tool however they see fit.”
It gave me an enormous confidence boost
Robin Sutton, chair of Cambridgeshire Neighbourhood Watch
The tool was trialled at Merton NW Association in South London. “It’s very comprehensive”, says its manager Lee Roberts. “It was a bit of an eye opener to be honest.”
Merton’s self-assessment revealed that while many of its committee members did not have defined roles the use of the tool assisted to enthuse them as it helped them to identify many areas where they could get involved and help shape the future of NW in their community.
The positive feedback continued with Cambridgeshire chair Robin Sutton saying that the tool gave him an ‘enormous confidence boost’ as a relative newcomer to the role.
A working group of members from across NWN helped to refine the tool, give feedback and to illustrate ways it could be used.
For instance, Associations could run seminars with their members focused on elements of the assessment or different Associations could share their assessments with each other to learn more about one another.
Jayne Pascoe concluded: “This is a tool for Associations to use as they fit, to mould their activity around local priorities and ensure Neighbourhood Watch is delivering for local communities.”
The self-assessment tool can be downloaded below alongside guidance about how to use it. Users can also download an action plan template and two case studies detailing how the tool was used in Cambridgeshire and Merton.