Neighbourhood watch frequently asked questions

  1. What is Neighbourhood Watch?
  2. Am I in a Neighbourhood Watch scheme?
  3. How do I start a scheme?
  4. What will I have to do?
  5. What is the role of the police?
  6. What is the role of the Home Office?
  7. How will the scheme be funded?
  8. Can I use the logo?
  9. Can I create my own logo?
  10. How do I get 'public liability insurance'?
  11. What do acronyms NHWN, NPSGWI and NSGWI stand for?
  12. Is there a national body representing Neighbourhood Watch?
  13. How do I order Neighbourhood & Home Watch leaflets and stickers?
  14. Where can I get Neighbourhood Watch street signs?
  15. As a NHW member and co-ordinator, what training do I need?
  16. How many Neighbourhood Watch schemes are there in the UK?
  17. What is the history of Neighbourhood Watch?
  18. Are there any other Watch schemes?
  19. What is 'Cocoon Watch'?
  20. How can I find out the latest news about Neighbourhood Watch?

1. What is Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch (in some areas known as Home Watch), is one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention schemes ever. At its most basic level, it is a scheme where a group of neighbours get together with the police and other agencies to reduce local crime and disorder (and perceptions of crime) in the bid to make your neighbourhood a safe and better place to live, work and play. It's also about building community spirit and good relations.

2. Am I in a Neighbourhood Watch scheme?

To find out if you belong to a scheme, contact a Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station who will be able to tell you if there is a scheme in your area or help you set up one of your own. You can also enquire with your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team, the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association or the Ourwatch website.

3. How do I start a scheme?

If you are serious about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, contact a Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station to discuss your plan. You can also contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team or the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association for advice.

4. What will I have to do?

Discuss your plan with your local police and your neighbours. Your neighbours must agree to participate and support the scheme. A scheme can be large, covering a whole housing estate or it can be small with half a dozen houses on the same street. Then, you and your neighbours need to appoint a co-ordinator (or co-ordinators) whose job is to get scheme members working together. Co-ordinators and members meet regularly to talk about crime and disorder problems in the neighbourhood and how to best tackle them. Co-ordinators also keep in close contact with the local police to share information and to seek advice.

5. What is the role of the police?

Watch schemes are not police-run groups. It is important to build a close working partnership with your local police such as the Safer Neighbourhood Team or the Neighbourhood Policing Team, and share with them all information relating to crime and other incidents in your area. Many police stations have a Crime Prevention Officer who works as a contact point for co-ordinators. The police can provide information on the latest crime figures, operational support as well as crime prevention advice, whereas Watch members can provide valuable information and knowledge about the neighbourhood. Together, you have a powerful tool to tackle crime. 

6. What is the role of the Home Office?

The Home Office recognises the important role of Neighbourhood Watch in crime reduction, and supports it in many ways including developing policy relating to its promotion, growth and support, providing practical support such as maintaining the website, managing the logos, producing good practice guidance, supplying free publications and training packages and providing Public Liability Insurance cover for every Neighbourhood Watch group and association throughout England and Wales.

7. How will the scheme be funded?

As voluntary groups, schemes need to decide how they will pay for the costs incurred through undertaking activities, such as producing newsletters, running a website or hiring meeting rooms. Funding for crime reduction is held at a local level. The aim is to empower local communities to make their own contributions to reducing crime and disorder and is a central part of the Government’s strategy. Funding may be obtained from the police, local authorities, Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRP), Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP) or through membership fees or sponsorship. Some schemes charge their members a nominal monthly fee.

8. Can I use the logo?

The yellow circular Neighbourhood Watch with 'four individuals' and the red triangle Home Watch logos are Crown Copyright and trademarked by the Home Office. They can be used by genuine Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch groups (or third parties acting on their behalf) for educational and other purposes, such as on newsletters and websites. Prior to using the logos, a licence must be obtained. The purpose of the licence is to preserve the reputation and integrity of the logos so as to ensure that they remain available for use by bona fide Neighbourhood & Home Watch groups, and to protect from inappropriate commercial exploitation such as to promote or endorse commercial products and services. See 'Neighbourhood & Home Watch Logos' for further details.

9. Can I create my own logo?

You can create your own logo. However you cannot make any changes to the 'official' yellow circular Neighbourhood Watch and the red triangle Home Watch logos. These are Crown Copyright and trademarked by the Home Office. You should also consider the impact an unfamiliar logo might have. The 'official' Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch logos are well recognised and act as a deterrent to would-be criminals. An unfamiliar logo might not have the same deterrent effect.

10. How do I get 'public liability insurance'?

Public Liability Insurance or PLI free cover is available for Neighbourhood Watch schemes and associations in England and Wales. It is managed by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) working in conjunction with Ansvar Neighbourhood Watch Public Liability Insurance. Once your Neighbourhood Watch group is approved by your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team, you will get a watch registration number from the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association, which you give to Ansvar for your free public liability insurance.  

11. What do acronyms NHWN, NPSGWI and NSGWI stand for?

NHWN stands for the Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (formerly known as United Strategy Group for Watch Issues). NPSGWI (National Police Steering Group for Watch Issues) and NSGWI (National Strategy Group for Watch Issues).

12. Is there a national body representing Neighbourhood Watch?

The Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (NHWN) is the national body representing Neighbourhood Watch. The NHWN has the prize winning Ourwatch website. You can map your 'Watch' area on that website.

13. How do I order Neighbourhood & Home Watch leaflets and stickers?

You can order Home Office NHW publicity materials from your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team or directly from the sponsor Towergate Insurance.

14. Where can I get Neighbourhood Watch street signs?

Generally, street signs can be obtained from your local police. However, in some areas they are provided by the local authority, and in other areas the local schemes must purchase street signs themselves. You should contact a Crime Prevention Officer from your local police station as a first step to find out who provides Neighbourhood Watch street signs in your area.

15. As a NHW member and co-ordinator, what training do I need?

As an ordinary NHW member, you will not need any formal training, although it will be worth learning as much as possible about Neighbourhood & Home Watch from this website. NHW co-ordinators, Watch Liaison Officers, Crime Prevention Officers, council staff working in community safety and the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association may require training. A new training package is currently being developed.

16. How many Neighbourhood Watch schemes are there in the UK?

The number of schemes registered for the Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is a good indicator of the number of schemes in the UK. There are 129,357 schemes, covering over 9 millions households (Source: Keegan & Pennykid, based on the number of schemes registered for PLI in January 2008). However, it is not known how many schemes exist that are not registered for the PLI.

17. What is the history of Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch first came to the UK from America during the 1980s. It started in a Cheshire village called Mollington in 1982 and spread quickly throughout the UK. It is sometimes known as Home Watch. Last year, Neighbourhood Watch celebrated its 25th anniversary in the UK.

18. Are there any other Watch schemes?

Yes, there are many Watch schemes based on the original Neighbourhood Watch. For examples, Church Watch, Horse Watch, Business Watch, Pub Watch, Farm Watch, School Watch, Boat Watch and many more.

19. What is 'Cocoon Watch'?

Cocoon Watch is a mini neighbourhood watch where after a burglary, immediate neighbours are asked to keep an eye on the burgled home for a few weeks and to report anything or anyone suspicious to the police.

20. How can I find out the latest news about Neighbourhood Watch?

You can talk your NHW co-ordinator or check out websites such as:

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