NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: General Information.

Neighbourhood Watch is a proven, community based crime prevention project. The basic requirements are awareness, vigilance and taking appropriate action. Good communication is the cornerstone of successful schemes.

A large proportion of crime is opportunist. Although little can be done to halt criminal behaviour, we are all able to reduce the available opportunities for crime by working together and by employing basic crime prevention.

Successful schemes also tend to develop as a 'community support' system, quick to identify the needs of vulnerable members and seeking to address those needs.

It must be remembered that for Neighbourhood Watch to succeed it must be a joint operation between the police and public, each playing their role; being able to accept the obvious limitations on both sides.

AIMS OF NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

  • To reduce opportunities of crime and make it more difficult for criminals to act.
  • To build up a community spirit so that neighbours can work together for everybody's benefit.
  • To tell police and your neighbours about suspicious incidents in your neighbourhood.

INSURANCE Most insurance companies offer a discount for being a member of a registered scheme and some have specifically designed insurance policies. They do however specify that these are available to registered schemes which means that they expect scheme details to be registered with the police through the Watch Scheme Office. Again if the scheme closes or if co-ordinators and deputies fail to re- register then this could effect your insurance policy.

MAINTAINING INTEREST This is probably as important an issue as communication, raising awareness of crime is a primary objective. We need to realistically set our objectives. Opportunist crime is the area where we can make most impact. Perhaps one objective would be to reduce burglary, if so, ensure that all members of the scheme have:

  • Had the relevant literature
  • Done security checks within the scheme
  • Encouraged members to postcode personal property
  • Identified weak spots
  • Circulate information on local trends in respect of that crime
  • Consulted with the Watch Scheme Administrator or Crime Reduction Officer and are aware of local crime trends and criminal activity

In that way Neighbourhood Watch becomes a pro-active means of tackling opportunist crime. As that forms a large proportion of rural crime, tackling this aspect that can have the most effect. It is essential to learn from mistakes and adopt successful strategies employed in other areas, so communication between the networks and groups is vital. A list of potential speakers for meetings is also available from the office.

It is often the case in comparatively low crime areas that schemes start with a flourish of activity and then begin to slow decline. It is an important and essential feature of all schemes that they are outward looking as many areas are not undergoing a continuous criminal onslaught.

When criminal activities are low, seek other community projects to ensure the scheme at whatever level, street, village etc remains pro-active. It is worth remembering that a successful Neighbourhood Watch group is outward looking. There are other projects which may be tackled in the interests of the community which overall will have the effect of increasing the groups actively and perhaps tackling long term problems within the group community.

It may be related to growth, it may be specifically tackling a problem or creating diversionary activities for young people. It may be helping the elderly or vulnerable within the community the opportunities are endless but can have a real effect on crime and the problems within your community which are crime related.

These problems are often more readily tackled by a group working together, so it is right that a caring Neighbourhood Watch group should expand its activities into crime related issues within its community, which are perhaps at first sight not the obvious direction perceived for Neighbourhood Watch to operate in. Working together the networking strategy encourages groups to support one another and align their aims and strategy, this is much more achievable operating within a network or structure than as a single group.

VICTIM SUPPORT Victim Support is a National organisation providing a comprehensive service to victims of crime which is confidential and free. Victims of crime are referred to Victim Support by the police and other agencies but can also make direct contact themselves. Victim Support can provide: Someone to talk to; Reassurance and emotional support; Contact with local organisations; Help with housing or welfare benefit problems; Support when attending court For further details on how Victim Support can be of assistance to your scheme, or for information on how to become a volunteer, contact 01823-336523.

ADMINISTRATION
The district Admin. is based at Bridgwater Police Station, Northgate, Bridgwater, TAG 3EU and can be contacted on 01823-363348 - this line has a fax and 24-hour answerphone attached to it. The office Email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Normal office opening hours are Monday- Friday 0800-1600