Home security isn’t an easy business. Keeping your house and family safe isn’t a one-time action or a specific product, it’s a combination of this plus vigilance and keeping a finger on the pulse for new ways to ensure your home is safe from intruders. We’re the experts in security products from alarm systems to CCTV, access control and environmental monitoring (such as flood and fire detectors) but we’re not at your house 24/7. Even when you’re not home your street isn’t empty, your neighbours are always there watching over the sanctity of your road. That’s why a Neighbourhood Watch scheme is one of the strongest lines of defence we have against crimes occurring in the home.
The Neighbourhood Watch is an idea that started in America and came to the UK in 1982. Initially called Home Watch, it started in Cheshire and has grown to have over 2.4 million members in the UK. If you’re not sure whether you have an active Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area you can check your postcode on the Neighbourhood Watch website to find the organisations closest to you. If there’s no scheme operating where you live you can set one up once you have become a member.
Every Neighbourhood Watch scheme has a different focus depending on the demographics and the problems in the area. Some communities living on flood plains and other areas prone to flash and seasonal flooding will have a scheme geared towards contingency planning and remedial works to restore homes after episodes of severe flooding. They may also work with other organisations with similar goals. Other areas may have a problem with a particular type of crime or with anti-social behaviour and work in co-operation with the police to reduce crime rates and improve the lives of the community. Many insurance companies recognise the value of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in reducing burglaries and theft and may offer a reduced premium for homes covered by an active scheme. You may be interested in this as a benefit to recruit members as the idea of saving money will get almost everyone on board.
Although running any kind of community organisation can be hard work, the Neighbourhood Watch provides a lot of support, advice and resources to people looking to become a scheme co-ordinator. The first step is to decide on a focus. You may have a particular problem that needs addressing, or there may be no pressing issue to attend to, but instead you would like to create a closer community feeling and provide support for vulnerable people. If you’re not sure whether there’s an area you should be focusing on, check the local crime statistics or speak to a police liaison officer about your plans. The police verify Neighbourhood Watch schemes and are always happy to work with the co-ordinators and members to work towards mutual goals of crime prevention.
Other community groups can be a vital place for answers and direction, not just in terms of the goals of your Neighbourhood Watch group, but also for finding meeting venues, dealing with other organisations, promotion and even administration. The great thing about community groups is the drive and passion that they have – they’ll always be happy to support another group working towards improving their community.
Running a Neighbourhood Watch scheme won’t be an easy task, but it is not a thankless one. By taking a step forward to improve the safety of your local community your actions will benefit all those around you. Yes, you might have a few late nights typing and emailing meeting minutes but the trade-off is knowing that you’ll deter burglars, lower crime rates and make your area much safer and nicer to live in. We always say you can’t put a price on safety and security and this is no different.