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Neighbourhood Watch - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch is one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention schemes ever. At its most basic level, it is a scheme where a group of neighbours get together with the police and other agencies to reduce local crime and disorder (and perceptions of crime) in the bid to make your neighbourhood a safe and better place to live, work and play. It's also about building community spirit and good relations. Neighbourhood Watch helps bring communities together.

2. Am I in a Neighbourhood Watch scheme?

To find out if you belong to a scheme or have one close-by, just e-mail help@maidstonenhw.co.uk and someone will get back to you. Alternatively telephone 01622 604398, leave a message and one of our Volunteers will get back to you as soon as possible.

3. How do I start a scheme?

If you are serious about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, contact lindasinclair@nhwcoordinator.co.uk and we can send you an information pack.

4. What will I have to do?

A few of your neighbours need to agree to participate and support the scheme. The contents of the information pack will help guide you, plus you will have the support of one of our Volunteers and your local PCSO. We will arrange to meet up with you and tell you everything you need to know. A scheme can be large, covering a whole housing estate or it can be small with half a dozen houses on the same street. Normally, you and your neighbours will need to appoint a ‘Co-ordinator’ (or Co-ordinators) whose job it is to get scheme members working together. Co-ordinators and members meet fairly regularly if possible to talk about crime and disorder problems in the neighbourhood and how best tackle them. Co-ordinators also keep in close contact with the local Neighbourhood Officers to share information and to seek advice.

5. What is the role of the police?

Watch schemes are not police-run groups. It is important to build a close working partnership with your local police such as the Safer Maidstone Partnership  or the Neighbourhood Policing Team, and share with them all information relating to crime and other incidents in your area. The police can provide information on the latest crime figures, operational support as well as crime prevention advice, whereas Watch members can provide valuable information and knowledge about the neighbourhood. Together, you have a powerful tool to tackle crime.

6. How will the scheme be funded?

As voluntary groups, schemes need to decide how they will pay for the costs incurred through undertaking activities, such as producing newsletters, running a Website, if required but not really necessary, or hiring a meeting room. Such funding is held at a local level. The aim is to empower local communities to make their own contributions to help reducing crime whilst working closely with Neighbourhood Officers. Some schemes charge their members a nominal monthly fee. There may also be other fund-raising options we can discuss with you.

7. If I see something suspicious what should I do?

If you spot a suspicious incident, it is important you record accurate details of what happened along with descriptions of the people involved and any vehicles you may have noticed at the scene. Write these details down as soon as possible and contact the police. Try to observe everything you can - even the smallest details may be important. Call 101 for non-emergency situations and 999 if there is a crime in progress or a threat to life.

Do not put yourself at risk - never try to "have a go"!

8. Can I get cheaper household insurance by joining Neighbourhood Watch?

In short, yes, there are insurance companies willing to offer a discount if you are part of an active Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Ask us, and we will point you in the right direction.

9. If I do decide to start a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme will we be able to have street signs put up?

Generally, street signs can be obtained from your local Neighbourhood Watch office. However, there will be a few procedures to go through beforehand and there is also a small charge for each one.

10. As a NHW member and Co-ordinator, what training do I need?

As an Neighbourhood Watch member you will not need any formal training, although it will be worth learning as much as possible about Neighbourhood Watch, but we can help you with that. Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators can receive free training if required - just e-mail us for more information: lindasinclair@nhwcoordinator.co.uk . You will also receive on-going support should you need it.

11. What is the history of Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch first came to the UK from America during the 1980s. It started in a Cheshire village called Mollington in 1982 and spread quickly throughout the UK. It is sometimes known as Home Watch.

12. How can I find out the latest news about Neighbourhood Watch?

Just go onto our Website for the latest information.

13. What is the NHWN?

The NHWN is the national Neighbourhood Watch umbrella organisation, recognised by the Home Office. See their website for additional handy resources such as toolkits, case studies, etc. Click on: www.ourwatch.org.uk or telephone 0116 229 3118 for more information.

14. If I have anymore questions who can I speak to?

You can e-mail help@maidstonenhw.co.uk and someone will get back to you. Alternatively telephone 01622 604398, leave a message and one of our Volunteers will get back to you as soon as possible.