Why not set up your own neighbourhood watch scheme, if there isn’t one in your street?
It can bring your insurance premiums down, for a start. It will help improve security in your area and will cut down the opportunities for crime. It’s also a good way to bring a community together, giving you an excuse to get to know your neighbours and a reason to chat to people.
It helps reduce the fear of crime too. Sharing information about the actual number of incidents that have taken place can give people a more realistic view of crime levels Add Mediain their area. Vulnerable or elderly people will also feel more secure knowing that there’s someone looking out for them.
So how do you go about setting up a neighbourhood watch?
First of all, find out whether there’s an appetite for such a thing where you live. It’s no use trying if you’re the only person who’s going to be keeping a look out!
Then check that there isn’t a scheme already up-and-running, by doing a postcode search at http://www.ourwatch.org.uk/get_involved/starting_a_scheme/. Or try getting in touch with your local PCSO or Community Warden.
Then, if a few people have expressed an interest, why not get together at someone’s home or down the pub, and have a meeting about the idea?
You’ll need a volunteer resident co-ordinator to lead on the scheme and liaise with the Police. It’s a two-way thing: that person will receive information and messages about incidents that have happened in their area. And sometimes there are appeals by the Police for information about a crime. We can all help each other!
The easiest way to share messages is to set up an email address list so that information can be passed on at the touch of a button. But don’t forget that not everybody will have access to email. You might need to consider printing out and delivering some of your messages to those without computers. Learn to delegate: ask a neighbour to take on this for you, so that you don’t end up doing everything!
There’s a very useful toolkit available if you sign up at www.ourwatch.org.uk. They have materials like poster templates, flyers and letter templates to help you advertise your new scheme and attract new members. The site also gives advice about the best way to communicate with your neighbours, and offers the opportunity to network with other schemes.
In many cases, the co-ordinator can also get marker kits, alarms and other security items for residents to use. Some community safety officers within councils have useful equipment for loan. In Sevenoaks, for example, the Sevenoaks District Council’s Community Safety Assistant has been promoting their holiday kits:
“These kits include timer switches, which can turn on the lights in your home between certain pre-set times. UV pens to mark your property and shed alarms are also included, as well as advice on other measures to protect your property and valuables when away.”
Via the neighbourhood watch scheme, it’s also easy to find useful security advice. They promote the Secured by Design scheme, a not-for-profit organisation that is the official UK Police initiative. This scheme focuses on crime prevention for homes and commercial premises, by promoting quality locks and other security aids that can reduce burglary by 75%. The locks that they promote are available through your local locksmiths, of course, so come straight to ITCC to see what’s on offer.