The charity responds to Labour Party’s pledge for ‘new’ approach to neighbourhood safety
It has been almost 40 years since the first Neighbourhood Watch was set up in the UK. Back then, it was cups of tea in neighbours’ houses and meetings in village halls.
Today those original members and traditional ways of engaging with neighbours remain a vital part of Neighbourhood Watch – but a whole new generation has come on board, bringing with them more agile and varied ways of connecting communities and preventing crime.
There was a surge in households joining Neighbourhood Watch during the pandemic. Research from Go Compare shows that the most significant increase in those joining Neighbourhood Watch schemes were from younger age groups. It found a 14 per cent rise in those aged 25 to 34 and a 10 per cent increase in homeowners aged 35 to 44 signing up in 2020.
As a grassroots charity, connecting with neighbours face-to-face will always be the heart and soul of how the charity operates. But now, the charity is taking full advantage of digital ways to connect volunteers and communities. Neighbourhood Watch volunteers can connect with others across the country to share inspiration and ideas through a new digital online Neighbourhood Watch Knowledge Hub. Last year the charity delivered over 1,200 hours of virtual online training on crime prevention, diversity and inclusion, communication skills and more to their volunteers. This year, new volunteers can opt-in to receive even more training online to enhance their knowledge and skills.
As referenced in recent media, antisocial behavior (ASB) is still a massive issue. ASB incidents have increased over the last three years with 45% of people say ASB is a problem where they live and 43% say it has affected their mental health*. Neighbourhood Watch have and will always work to reduce ASB in their local communities. This October the charity is launching a digital ASB awareness campaign backed with information on recognising, recording and reporting ASB on their website and a webinar with specialist ASB charities.
Neighbourhood Watch groups are no longer restricted to the streets in which they live. ‘Cover Watches’ using social media channels such as Whatapp and Facebook can serve whole towns and cities. Communities are not limited to geographic location; they can also be groups of people sharing the same interest or looking to bringing about change, such as a student campus, faith group or those passionate about tackling climate change. Interest groups such as these, as well as organisations, such as Deliveroo and AirBnb, are becoming ‘affiliate members’ of Neighbourhood Watch, enabling the charity to engage with people where they are.
Cybercrime is now more of a threat than physical crime for a rising number of households across England and Wales. Neighbourhood Watch volunteers can play an integral part in preventing cybercrime and fraud at a local level through the Communities the Care programme or the Cyberhood Watch initiative, jointly run by Neighbourhood Watch and Avast.
The charity’s national digital campaigns on issues such as cybercrime, dog theft and burglary are not only challenging policymakers and politicians but receiving the support of young Neighbourhood Watch supporters. Over 1.3 million people visited their website last year, with four times as many 18 – 24-year-olds visiting their website, compared to the previous year. The charity has over 27,000 new social media followers than at the start of the pandemic.
The ‘next-generation Neighbourhood Watch’ is already here, bringing communities together and helping to prevent crime using new technology in an increasingly digital world, whilst ensuring that those for whom this may not be an option are not left behind.
*Data source: Taking Back our Communities - working together to make communities safer report, commissioned in 2021 by RESOLVE, a Centre of Excellence solely focused upon community safety and antisocial behaviour
For more information, contact Deborah Waller on 07495 415380 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editor
- Spokespeople are available for interview and comment regarding this story. Email: Deborah.email@example.com
- Neighbourhood Watch has over 90,000 coordinators and 2.3-million-member households in England and Wales
- More information about Neighbourhood Watch, including how to join or register a scheme, is available at ourwatch.org.uk
- Neighbourhood Watch Network can be found on Facebook: facebook.com/ourwatch, Twitter: twitter.com/N_watch, Instagram: neighbourhood.watch.insta, LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/neighbourhood-watch/