Why Neighbourhood Watch works
It is widely assumed that crime prevention/reduction is the primary objective of Neighbourhood Watch. But building feelings of safety amongst members of a community can be just as important an outcome as crime prevention.
Being informed about local crime may increase an individual’s sense of control over their local area and consequently reduce their fear of crime. Without trust between neighbours however, it is unlikely that any substantial efforts to work together as a community will be sustained. This is why we constantly encourage residents to befriend their neighbours and share any concerns they have about suspicious behaviour in their neighbourhood.
It is possible to alter an offender’s perception of the attractiveness of a crime opportunity so the offender may find it more difficult to commit crime, more risky, or less rewarding. For example, residents removing valuables from their cars may reduce the rewards available for offenders so that they decide it’s not worth their while to break into the car. Remember – criminals are lazy and will usually go for the easiest target!
Communicating information about new crimes or suspicious behaviour, results in the public becoming more security conscious and taking sensible precautions to protect themselves and their properties. This may also extend to protecting their neighbours’ property (e.g. taking out bins, increasing signs of occupancy, sharing awareness of unusual activity in the neighbourhood). Consequently, this is thought to increase the would-be offender’s perception of the risk of being caught, which acts as a deterrent. As a result, they may displace their offending to different neighbourhoods, times or types of crime or they may not offend at all. This predicts a decrease in repeat incidents and in crime itself. These are measurable outcomes, and the police hold the data that is used in such analysis.
Increased monitoring of the neighbourhood results in residents collecting information about unreported crime and community intelligence, and forwarding this information on to the local police.
If tolerance of crime decreases and residents begin to challenge undesirable behaviours, this can discourage offenders from continuing their behaviour. Social connectedness between neighbours combined with their willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good by reporting suspicious behaviour and remaining vigilant, brings about a safer community.
Public confidence that the police will exercise their authority in a fair and just way, results in residents feeling they can challenge bad behaviour and that their actions may be backed up by more formal sanctions. It is good to note that round 85% of Tasmanians feel confidence in their police force and feel safe in their homes, especially during the daylight hours. In challenging undesirable behaviours, communities feel more empowered, which encourages them to actively maintain their crime prevention actions which deter would-be offenders.
From several studies undertaken here and abroad, it is clear that there is a positive relationship between Neighbourhood Watch and crime reduction.
What can we do to assist our Police?
Every unreported incident skews the stats, so it important to report every incident or suspected incident to the police as soon as possible. Also, it is important to understand that though some incidents never make it into our monthly Crime Report, this does not mean the police are not acting on it. The incident may not be listed if it is of a personal nature (perhaps a family violence situation) or part of a larger ongoing investigation. The Police choose which incidents make it into the Report. New Norfolk Neighbourhood Watch has no control over this process.
Our facebook stats: Follower numbers have been rising steadily with over 1800 people now following our facebook page. If you need to find help in a hurry, our CDV e-hub is available here: www.connectingderwentvalley.com.au
A Safety Tip
If you move into a new home it is advisable to change the exterior door locks because you never know who might have a duplicate key!
IN AN Emergency… or when a crime is taking place, call 000. If a crime has already happened, call 131 444. For anonymous reporting call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. They appreciate any small piece of information you are able to supply about a crime.
NNNW – Your connection to a safer community