Negative representation of Neighbourhood Watch supporters as 'snitches' and 'behaviour police' is unproductive, outdated and putting our members at risk, its CEO said today.
John Hayward-Cripps, the Chief Executive of Neighbourhood Watch Network, argues that portraying supporters as sneaky informers, rather than active citizens who make a positive impact upon their communities, is thoughtless to the 90,000 plus volunteers they represent, damaging to Neighbourhood Watch as a charity and dangerously vilifying their members. The contribution Neighbourhood Watch supporters make in developing safer, more inclusive and resilient communities has never been more evident than in the current Covid-19 crises.
The umbrella charity, which oversees local Neighbourhood Watch schemes across England and Wales, points to recent front-page coverage by The Sun (15/09/2020) which carelessly and provocatively edited Neighbourhood Watch’s widely recognised logo without consent or consultation from the charity.
"The idea that our members are only concerned with reporting neighbours, especially in relation to the current rule of six, is baffling.
Active Neighbourhood Watch volunteers make an impact not just on crime prevention but also on community cohesion and supporting the vulnerable.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis our volunteers have been working hard in their communities; providing essentials and implementing phone trees to connect the most vulnerable and isolated; partnering with other local community groups to make PPE for frontline staff and to setting up foodbank; and crowdfunding for 3D printers to produce PPE for frontline workers; as well as sharing up-to-date government messages to more than 2.3 million households and delivering advice on new scams that sprung up as a result of Covid-19.
Regarding the new regulations, we encourage everyone, whether you are a supporter of Neighbourhood Watch or not, to take responsibility for your own actions so we can get through this together and safely.
As a first step we encourage neighbours to speak to each other about any concerns and to offer support. If someone is too afraid to speak to their neighbours they can contact their local Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator or other community group, who may be able to provide the support they need.”
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of the Neighbourhood Watch Network
Neighbourhood Watch volunteers are often characterised as nosy neighbours and interfering in people’s lives. This lazy stereotyping is outdated, reductive and erroneous, ignoring the real work and dedicated volunteer hours of Neighbourhood Watch today.
The Sun has responded by saying:
”The graphic on the front page was intended to be humorous. It wasn't a reflection on the actions of Neighbourhood Watch or its supporters, but rather the Neighbourhood Watch logo was used to illustrate the new measures being taken by the Government in response to coronavirus.”
Neighbourhood Watch volunteers run community and school crime safety workshops, distribute video doorbells and CCTV cameras to those who need it most, develop apps for reporting crime, provide free school meals during school holidays, and clean up our streets to reduce ASB. The actions of our volunteers in working alongside the police have led to significant convictions being made.
Neighbourhood Watch is a grassroots, hyper-local movement open to anyone who wants to make their community a safer and more vibrant place. To find out more, visit their website at ourwatch.org.uk or visit their social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.