Neighbourhood Watch
About Neighbourhood Watch

The first Neighbourhood Watch scheme in Britain started in the early 1980ís and has since grown to 150,000 watches covering 6 million households and roughly 10 million people.

Neighbourhood Watch is the coming together of residents and the police with support from various authorities such the local council and Police Authority. Its strength comes from the community looking out for each other involving simple, neighbourly tasks:

  • Reporting suspicious activity to the police
  • Sharing information on recent local crimes with neighbours (increasing vigilance & crime prevention awareness)
  • Checking on vulnerable neighbours after an incident (creating a caring community)
  • Discussing ongoing concerns with neighbours

A working watch scheme creates a stronger community and has the potential to lower crime, or if you are already enjoying a low level of crime it can help to keep it that way. The power of Neighbourhood Watch can also be used when a community wishes to tackle a specific problem. By calling a meeting and inviting the police a community can speak with one voice representing everyone in the street, estate or area. This coming together will help the police receive a clear understanding of the issue and will work with the community to resolve the problem and bring in other authorities to help if necessary.

Home Watch is a similar type of watch scheme and is used in place of Neighbourhood Watch in certain parts of the country.

Watch schemes can be substantially enhanced if OWL is used to manage all of your watches online. OWL allows coordinators to easily administrate their own watches and swiftly pass on information to neighbours while the police can quickly send out important messages using additional methods of communication. If your watch scheme is interested in using OWL please mention it to your Neighbourhood Watch officer at your local police station .

Shop Watch Pub Watch Farm Watch School Watch Business Watch
Shop Watch, Pub Watch, School Watch...

There are dozens of different watch schemes operating around the UK to include businesses and all sorts of organisations. Examples are School Watch, Farm Watch, Shop Watch, Forecourt Watch, Business Watch, Dog Watch, Student Watch and so on.

These watch schemes generally don't share the same structure as Neighbourhood Watch (with street, area and ward coordinators) but the operating principles are similar.

OWL supports all of these watch schemes and more (over 80 types!) allowing the police to communicate quickly and directly with businesses and organisations to increase awareness and therefore minimise the chance of a crime occurring.

Watch Structures

Neighbourhood Watch schemes can bemanaged by the police, in partnership with a Neighbourhood Watch Association, or as a stand-alone scheme within a village, ward or estate. Some schemes have Ward Coordinators who are volunteers overseeing watches within their ward. Some wards are then broken down into areas with Area Coordinators overseeing a village or a part of a town who in turn oversee Street Coordinators.

Each Street Coordinator looks after a watch consisting of members who are ordinary residents. This full structure isn't in place everywhere. In some counties and districts only Street Coordinators are in place and are lead by a single police administrator or a chairman of a local NHW association.

OWL fully supports these structures, big and small, making online management of watches much easier where each coordinator or police user can securely administrate everything they are entitled to do so, securely, in one place.

Further Information

The National Neighbourhood & Home Watch website provide training materials for coordinators.

Purpose Statement issued by the Home Office. (PDF)

Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (NHWN) is the name for the established group of regional Neighbourhood & Home Watch representatives meeting at national level from across England & Wales. From their website you can find your regional rep if you wish to contact them.