From Neighbourhood to Cyberhood: Over a third of Neighbourhood Watch members now more concerned about cybercrime than physical crime.

Cybercrime now feels like more of a threat than physical crime for a rising number of households across England and Wales, with more people either falling victim personally, or knowing someone who has been a victim of online theft, according to research from over 14,000 Neighbourhood Watch members. The research, carried out in conjunction with Avast, a cybersecurity leader in the UK, found that those who believe cybercrime is less of a threat than physical crime are firmly in the minority (15%).

Additionally, over a third (34%) believe cybercrime is now a bigger threat than physical crime, and half (50%) think the threat level is similar. In response, Neighbourhood Watch and Avast are announcing a new partnership called ‘Cyberhood Watch’ to tackle these fears, and providing online cybersecurity awareness courses to help inform and protect 2.3 million households* across England and Wales.

The Cyberhood Watch initiative is a response to the growing challenge that cybercrime poses to local communities who often don’t have a ready resource for information on keeping themselves safe from the latest scams. The research highlighted a general lack of confidence in talking about cybercrime experiences within the community, and in understanding the best methods of online protection, in particular for more vulnerable members of the population.


“Neighbourhood Watch is about making sure that fewer people feel afraid, vulnerable or isolated in the place where they live, and in recent years that means helping members learn how to protect themselves, and their local community against cybercrime has become a key priority. This may surprise some people who think Neighbourhood Watch is solely focused on physical crime prevention. Our members recognise that the threat of cybercrime is very real, and they tell us that there is a definite need for simple advice and resources so they feel better equipped to defend themselves against it and advise others.”

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch


The survey also revealed that a fifth (20%) of Neighbourhood Watch members have been a victim of cybercrime personally. Four in ten (38%) know at least one person who has fallen victim to cybercrime with an additional 33% having heard about it happening to people they don’t know. Half of those who took part in the study are over 65, indicating that cyber threats are a significant issue for an age group traditionally less knowledgeable about technology and sometimes more isolated socially, and therefore perhaps more reliant on their digital world.

Avast’s support will include a range of services to help Neighbourhood Watch members become more informed and less at risk of falling victim to cybercrime. This will include a training and accreditation scheme for local Neighbourhood Watch representatives, local informative events, downloadable guides and resources, and ongoing sharing of information about relevant emerging threats. Follow this link:


“The content and accreditation course Avast has developed for this campaign will make a very real impact to our members’ lives, so they can feel more assured and safe when doing things like online shopping, communicating with their family on social media or managing their money,”

continued Hayward-Cripps.


Neighbourhood Watch members who have been a victim of cybercrime have experienced both financial and data loss, as well as emotional distress. In terms of financial impact, over a third (36%) lost money and of them, almost a third (29%) lost more than £1,000. The majority of these crimes were kept secret by the victims with only 30% reporting it to the police. Sadly, 5% felt they couldn’t tell anyone with over a third (34%) feeling foolish and embarrassed, and 36% left feeling very upset.


“Avast has always believed that being safe online should be a basic right for all, which is why we have free versions of our cybersecurity products so that everyone can get great online protection at no cost. Neighbourhood Watch community leads, who often represent people and places that are most at risk of cyber threats, are increasingly asking for help following feedback from local members who have experienced scams or security incidents themselves, or know someone who has. We are delighted to provide our support by working with them to deliver a cybersecurity accreditation programme with training courses to help members become more confident and knowledgeable in supporting their community cybersecurity requirements.”

Peter Turner, Senior Vice President, Consumer Security, Avast


Additional findings:
• The majority have firewalls (70%), security software they regularly update (78%), strong passwords that are different across all their devices, apps and programmes (69%) and keep all of their software and apps updated when promoted (73%)

• However, 13% aren’t sure their security software is always up to date and only 16% use encryption products such as a VPN and 23% a password manager tool

• The overwhelming majority (88%) access banking, 85% shopping online, 81% accessing the DVLA, 78% bill payments, 73% council services, and 62% GP booking and prescription renewals

• While only 6% haven’t heard of phishing, and 5% of malware such as viruses, Trojans or ransomware, a much larger 88% haven’t heard of spearphishing, stalkerware (87%), password attacks (48%) and hacks of a connected device (41%)