Neighbourhood Watch itself began life in the UK over 30 years ago in response to rising crime, but today, as times change, it covers all aspects of keeping safe.
In 1983, Northamptonshire Police set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme which was seen as one of the first in the country. Five years later, in 1988, the Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association was formed to establish and run the scheme as an independent organisation.
Our main aims are to prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime, improve safety, and encourage neighbourliness and a supportive spirit across our communities. That means that whilst combating crime remains our core aim, we also help out in other important ways to help protect our communities, such as supporting the elderly and vulnerable.
Neighbourhood Watch promotes good citizenship and greater public awareness through Neighbourhood Watch groups; increases public participation in the prevention and detection of crime and anti-social behaviour; reduces the fear of crime; improves police/community liaison, and increases public and community safety.
Today’s Neighbourhood Watch is about making sure that no one has to feel afraid, vulnerable or isolated in the place where they live. It’s about encouraging and empowering people to look out for each other: crossing barriers of age, race and background to create strong, safe and cohesive communities that benefit everyone.
Neighbourhood Watch acts as the ears and eyes of the community. As a result, it has been shown that Neighbourhood Watch areas are far less likely to be targeted by criminals: crime cannot flourish in a community that cares.
We are a dedicated and loyal band of volunteers that operates an independently constituted not-for-profit organisation: run by its members, for its members.
We have a powerful and growing network of groups. Our emphasis is on the strengths of our voluntary work at grassroots level, be it an individual street scheme, an individual housing estate, a single village or parish, or a small to medium sized town.
Any resident of the county can join our scheme. The population is circa 700,000 in an area of over 900 square miles. The reach of our network recognises that much of our county is rural, with the added aspect that the county is landlocked and borders eight other counties. Usually residents in a neighbourhood, who support the aims and objectives of Neighbourhood Watch, agree amongst themselves that they will come together and form a local scheme. This might be a single street or set of streets, a housing estate, a wider community or town. The ability to support each other and share involvement as a team is the key to successful and enduring schemes.
There are 1,220 recognised schemes in Northamptonshire that cover some 40,000 households. Support for individual schemes is given at a district area level and in turn through the county Association, linking with the East Midlands region and ultimately to the national office.
Although the organisation of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch is independent of the police, it enjoys a strong partnership with the county police force at grassroots level up to senior management and the Chief Constable. In addition, there is a strong relationship with the Police and Crime Commissioner and other naturally affiliated bodies such as Fire & Rescue, Trading Standards, Crimestoppers and the Northamptonshire Emergency Response Corps.
A successful and effective network of partnerships has also developed with statutory authorities: parish and town councils, district, borough and county councils.
The forum offers a valuable networking opportunity for representatives of Neighbourhood Watch Associations in the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. There are usually two or three meetings a year that bring together colleagues to provide peer advice and support; ideas and solutions; learning from example and experiences, and strengthening and uniting the work we do.
The Neighbourhood Watch Network is a registered CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) and represents all Neighbourhood Watch members across England and Wales. It is the body that engages with the Home Office and other partners at the strategic level. It supports SERF, Federations and all the local Associations to help make the areas where we live safe, friendly and pleasant place to be. It manages and controls use of the famous and widely-recognised logo, and facilitates free Public Liability Insurance. NWN also provides marketing and support literature, such as window/door stickers, information booklets and crime prevention guides. Best practice is promoted through its website www.ourwatch.org.uk and free, regular newsletters to any individual who wishes to subscribe.