As more of us are struggling and need the support of our community, Neighbourhood Watch is stepping up as four-fifths (80%) of members think that local people look after each other in their area.
Neighbourhood Watch groups began in the UK 40 years ago in response to a spate of burglaries in areas across the country. They became the voice of their community’s working with the police to make criminals' jobs harder. Today they continue to be instrumental in reducing crime and also in increasing the well-being of their communities by connecting people and supporting each other through tough times.
Neighbours looking out for each other is critical to helping people feel safer and happier in the area they live. This is a key strength of Neighbourhood Watch with almost three-quarters (73%) of Neighbourhood Watch members reporting being satisfied with their personal safety.
Figures are from an annual public Crime and Community Survey * of over 25,000 members and non-members across England and Wales. The report also shows that over three-quarters (77%) of Neighbourhood Watch members think that people who live in their area trust one another and nearly all (90%) of members think that if they needed help, their community would be there for them.
Neighbourhood Watch volunteers are the local bridge between the police and the residents; organising local events, street clean-ups or get-togethers; and always a vital source of information for people to get help to keep themselves safe. Whilst exactly what they do varies depending on what is needed, Neighbourhood Watch volunteers all have one thing in common: a desire to make things better.
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Network, said, "It sounds a cliché but what we do is very simple. Just as we always have, we help people feel safe and connected. We do this through our incredible army of community volunteers. I'm talking about your nan's best friend, your corner shop owner, your neighbour, or your dog walker. They are on the ground caring for their neighbours and forming an integral part of all our neighbourhoods, which means they know the unique things that need to happen to help people feel more connected and safer."
Neighbourhood Watch has traditionally been associated with burglary prevention, but these days Neighbourhood Watch groups help prevent a much wider array of crimes such as fraud, street harassment, and car theft, and can signpost people to report domestic abuse, county lines or terrorism.
Groups like Keyham in Plymouth were integral in supporting their community through a violent shooting. Groups in Cumbria are integral in the county’s flood responses and in targeting rural crime, and groups in Oxford are focusing on bike thefts. Groups in Peterborough, Gloucestershire and Kent are focusing on tackling drug dealing, and Surrey Heath on reducing car crimes.
Whilst each Neighbourhood Watch group uniquely supports their neighbours, streets and towns or villages, they also work as one body to respond to crises on a national scale and currently are supporting those affected by the cost-of-living crisis
To join Neighbourhood Watch, visit ourwatch.org.uk.