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In essence a watch scheme is the bringing together of responsible members of local communities in partnership with the police, to prevent and deter crime. The first scheme was started in Mollington, a small Cheshire village, in 1982. From that one initiative schemes have spread like wild fire to every corner of the country.  At the last count there were more than 115,000 watch schemes around the U.K.  There are many different names for these schemes - Neighbourhood Watch, Village Watch, Home Watch, Community Watch etc., but whatever the name they all share the same goal, that of reducing crime and so improving the quality of life for local inhabitants.

The effectiveness of the Watch concept is beyond doubt. Success stories, although anecdotal, abound. Watch schemes, however, do more than just reduce crime.  They help to link communities, strengthen local ties with the police and foster an atmosphere of good neighbourliness and community spirit.


It is the co-operative effort of our Neighbourhood Watch members working with the police that is so important. Obviously our society cannot afford to have a police officer stationed on every street corner 24 hours a day. Consequently, much of the work done by police has to be responsive- they are not usually called until after the event.

This is where Neighbourhood Watch comes in. Neighbourhood Watch members are usually in a better position that police to notice unusual goings-on. Even the local beat officer is unlikely to spot the stranger in the street, but local people will, especially in one of the more active and established Neighbourhood Watch areas.


In brief, to be a good neighbour. That means being alert to what is happening in the local area
- and responding to it. It means keeping your eves open and taking a note of anything or anyone you feel is suspicious or out of the ordinary. You should report your observations to your local co-ordinator or to the police. 
Naturally, if you see an incident that requires immediate police action -
DIAL 999

The sort of suspicious events that should be reported are:-

Strangers knocking at unanswered doors or peering through windows and vanishing around the back of the premises.

A person trying the door of a car which you know does not belong to them or trying several car doors.

Strangers who are loitering around children’s play areas or schools and approaching children.

Open windows in houses which you know or believe the occupier to be away.


If you do spot a suspicious incident, it is important that you record accurate details of what happened along with description of the people involved and any vehicles that you saw at the scene. Write these details down as soon as possible and pass them to the local co-ordinator or to the police. Try to observe everything that you can - even the smallest details may be important.


You may have heard of the Citizens Arrest and may be under the impression that, if
you see an offence being committed, you are entitled to intervene and arrest the miscreant involved. This is not so. The law says that a member of the public can arrest - and if necessary use reasonable force to detain - any person who is in the act of committing an Arrestable Offence. Do you know what an Arrestable Offence is?

Arresting criminals is a matter for the police. 
Neighbourhood Watch will serve the cause of Crime Prevention far better by
and putting the police officer into the right place at the right time.

Link to Leaflet "Householders and the Use of Force"
lLink to Leaflet "Code of Practise for Victims of Crime"
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Updated on: 6th December, 2015