>> Jan 30, 2013
Whether you live in the middle of a bustling city or a quiet village, we all want and have the right to feel safe within our homes and, by extension, our neighbourhoods. Clearly, everyone should do everything they can to maximise the security of their own property, and one really effective way of boosting security in your community is to create a neighbourhood watch scheme.
As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers and, by establishing this kind of programme, you and your neighbours can help make the entire local community a better place to live. So, if you're looking to make your area safer, how do you go about it?
The first step is to obtain some evidence about the level of crime in your neighbourhood. After all, you don't know the exact nature of the problem - or problems - that you face, how can you expect to tackle it/them effectively? This can be achieved by doing something as simple as going door-to-door on your street and asking your neighbours what their views on crime are and what they feel should be done about it. Bear in mind, however, that some people's opinions may not be based on facts.
As such, it's also worth looking online or asking your local police force for crime statistics to back up your initial findings. Once you've gathered all the evidence that you need, you can start to tackle the specific problems you face.
If your neighbourhood is blighted by vandals, for example, it's worth setting up a group of 'window watchers' - namely those who will keep an eye out through their window for any unusual incidents or signs of trouble. By having this network in place, you can be sure that someone is keeping a watchful eye on the street, particularly during times when the majority of residents are at work or school.
Running self-defence classes, particularly for women and older people, can also help residents to feel more secure. With one important caveat - even if you enjoy practising martial arts in your spare time or fancy yourself as the next Batman, you should never actively seek physical confrontation with criminals. It is, of course, a job best left to the police.
Asking people in the area with DIY skills to help less able residents repair fencing and install outdoor lighting can also improve the overall safety of your neighbourhood, while your group could also seek financial assistance from nearby businesses to clean and improve public areas. When approaching such companies for help, you should not only point out the obvious benefits of having a safer and more secure community, but remind them that providing funds for such work will raise their profile in the local area.
Whatever steps you take, however, you should hold regular meetings to help people get to know each other - doing so can often eliminate any misconceptions neighbours have of one another - and to establish the success of any initiatives you are running.
At your regular neighbourhood watch meetings, consider distributing promotional products such as personalised cups and mugs. Although these items may not initially sound like they can do much to improve security in your area, they could help generate a sense of community and togetherness among neighbours. Make sure your slogan and contact details of the neighbourhood watch scheme are printed on these products - that way, people will know exactly who to get in touch with should they have any concerns about safety or wish to report an incident.
Are you looking to improve safety in your neighbourhood? Please leave a comment below and tell us the steps you're taking to achieve this.