- In just six months, Kingsway in Gloucester has recruited 17 new neighbourhood watch groups as the community works together to tackle anti-social behaviour
- Following a series of anti-social incidents in October/November 2020, an increased police presence and community meetings led to the 17 new groups starting up.
- Many younger people volunteering as Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators are running their groups digitally through Facebook and WhatsApp
- New co-ordinators say it is a way of building community and getting to know their neighbours during a time where we have been at home more.
The changing face of Neighbourhood Watch is a young one. The stereotypical image behind the curtain is being replaced by a younger generation of community volunteers.
Kingsway Village in Gloucester has demonstrated how Neighbourhood Watch groups are turning to digital technology to keep their neighbourhoods safe and informed.
The estate in Quedgeley, saw a number of anti-social behaviour incidents during October and November 2020. Problems included motorcycles riding on paths, drug dealing and young people loitering.
Following public meetings called by concerned local residents, police increased their patrols and worked with the community to help launch 17 new Neighbourhood Watch groups in just six months. People living in the area say they now feel safer, knowing they have the support of a local group and a direct link to police.
Rob May is a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator in Kingsway: “It feels safer now, with the newsletters and the police action, it really feels like the police are invested in making this a safer area.” While Helen Hoy, who also runs a scheme in the area, said it was about more than crime: “It’s definitely about the community. If you spend time into building up the community, you reduce the crime. We use a WhatsApp group and our neighbours all look after each other. People want to make a difference and make it a nice area to live in.”
To mark Neighbourhood Watch Week, which runs from the 7th to the 13th of June 2021, Gloucestershire’s OPCC and Gloucestershire Constabulary has released a video about the changing face of Gloucestershire’s neighbourhood watch. As the organisation aims to shed its ‘curtain twitching’ stereotype, it hopes for recognition as a way for families to engage with their neighbours and to build relationships in their communities.
Chief Inspector Richard Pegler said: “It gives communities a sense of security and togetherness, which are equally as important as trying to reduce crime and the fear of crime. So, what Neighbourhood Watch really promotes is connectivity – it’s something that reaches far wider than just policing.”
To find out more or to register to join a neighbourhood watch group in your area, visit ourwatch.org.uk.