Setting up a neighbourhood watch scheme in your area, can help you and your neighbours feel safe. It can also help to prevent crime. You can set up a watch to cover just one street, a couple of streets or part or all of an estate.
Setting up a scheme in your area
Firstly you’ll need to talk to your neighbours and see if there is support for setting up a neighbourhood watch scheme in your area. It is important to find out:
- if there is enough support to set up a scheme
- what area the scheme should cover
- if neighbours have free time to be involved
You should then speak to the police and local Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) about your idea. They will be able to give you advice, support and help you to agree how to set up and maintain your scheme.
If you decide to go ahead, you will need to appoint someone to be your neighbourhood watch coordinator. Ideally this should be someone well known and trusted in your community, who also has the time to maintain the scheme.
You could have more than one coordinator if your scheme covers a few streets or an estate.
The coordinator must apply for accreditation from the PSNI, before an application for a new scheme can be made. Once your coordinator has been approved, they will need to complete an application form to register the scheme.
To read more about starting a neighbourhood watch scheme, go to:
What a neighbourhood watch coordinator does
The coordinator will:
- talk to local residents about supporting the scheme and encourage them to join
- keep a register of all scheme members
- keep in contact with the police – telling them about any suspicious and criminal incidents, and general community concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour in the area
- be the first point of contact for local residents and the wider community if they need to get or give information
- meet with other local neighbourhood watch co-ordinators to share experiences and good practice
- go to regular meetings with the police to discuss local community safety issues
- help maintain the scheme – handing out leaflets and newsletters, property marking and putting up neighbourhood watch signs
Running a neighbourhood watch scheme
It is your neighbourhood watch scheme – you run it for the benefit of your community, your neighbours, family and friends. The police and other organisations are there to support you. Remember:
- to ask for support when you need it
- no one in the scheme is expected to put themselves at any risk
- you do not have to do any more than an ordinary member in terms of keeping your eyes open and reporting suspicious activities
- you are not expected to make special efforts to be vigilant
- you are not responsible if a crime or criminal is not noticed
- you don't have any special powers, or any additional responsibilities, above those of an ordinary citizen
To read more information about keeping your and your community safe, go to:
- Crime prevention
- Community safety
- Keeping your home secure
- Protecting yourself
- Keeping your farm secure
Reporting suspicious activity
If you see suspicious behaviour in your area, it’s important to write down as much information about what you’ve seen as possible. You should notice:
- person - gender, age, skin colour, build, height, dress
- hair - colour, length, curly/straight, receding, bald
- face - shape, complexion, beard or moustache
- mouth - shape, teeth
- eyes - glasses, eye colour
- marks – scars, tattoos, piercings
- vehicle type - car, van, lorry, bike
- vehicle details - make, model, colour, registration number or any distinguishing details (for example company name, damage, decoration)
To help record sightings and incidents, you can download and print a neighbourhood watch observation card:
You should then report what you have seen to the police. It is important to do this as quickly as possible. You should only call 999 in an emergency.