Starting a Group
Starting a Neighbourhood Watch group needs careful consideration as not everyone will want to join a group and be involved as an Active Volunteer.
By forming a group you will be committing to undertaking projects, events and activities that promote the Neighbourhood Watch philosophy in your community.
What is the difference between a Participant and an Active Volunteer?
A participant can be anyone in the community that wants to promote the NHW philosophy without the formalities of joining a group. Neighbourhood Watch is simply neighbours getting to know neighbours, looking out for each other and reporting suspicious activity to Police. That is the smallest investment we ask of anyone that lives in a community.
An Active Volunteer is someone that would like to be involved in events, projects or programs that promote the NHW philosophy in their community. By being an Active Volunteer you will join an existing group or start one of your own. All Active Volunteers will undergo a Police Clearance. The group will register with NHW State Office, adhere to the NHW Guidelines for Volunteers and contribute to the overall Strategy of NHW WA.
I’m not sure my neighbourhood is big enough for Neighbourhood Watch?
Neighbourhood Watch is about neighbours getting to know neighbours, looking out for each other and reporting suspicious activity to Police. Neighbourhood Watch can be large or small depending on the needs of the local area. Participation in NHW can be as simple as two houses, a street across the road from a park, a nursing home, block of units or a land estate. To be an Active Volunteer you need enough interested like minded community members to commit to undertaking projects/events and programs that promote the NHW philosophy.
I don’t have the time to commit to all those Neighbourhood Watch meetings?
Participating is as simple as connecting with your neighbours and establishing a contact tree that works for you.
Neighbourhood Watch groups may meet frequently or only once a year. They may stay in touch via email, community noticeboard or have regular meetings. It is up to you and your members to decide on the operation of your group.
I’m not sure that the Neighbourhood Watch structure would work in my street?
Neighbourhood Watch is adaptable to meet the needs of the individuals and the community they reside in. It’s up to the Participants and Active Volunteers to structure NHW around what suits them best and how much they want to invest in the program. There is no “one size fits all” approach to NHW. It is the NHW philosophy that counts.
How do I start a NHW group?
To become an Active Volunteer and start a group, first find out if your neighbours are interested in the idea. The group should be a size that is easy to manage and it is often easier to start smaller and then expand. Your group must adhere to the NHW Volunteer Guidelines and be able to undertake projects/programs and events that promote the NHW philosophy.
Hold a meeting
When you have established there is enough support, it is often a good idea to hold a meeting. At this meeting you can make decisions about why you want to have a NHW group, and also about how it will run. Prior to the meeting, you may wish to get in touch with your local Police or local government authority to see if they can lend any support.
Some questions to consider –
- Why do we wish to set up a Neighbourhood Watch group?
- What are our local concerns?
- What can we do to address these concerns?
- What do we want to achieve as a group?
- How can we contribute to making our community safer?
Other questions regarding the organisation of the group to consider are &ndash
- Who will be the coordinator of the group?
- How will members of the group communicate?
- How often will the group communicate?
It should be discussed that as a group members will be required to become Active Volunteers and register with NHW WA.
Do we need to hold regular meetings?
It is not strictly necessary to hold meetings; it really depends on your group. You may already have a means of communicating which allows discussion and agreement amongst your members. You may already have structures in place which you can use (e.g a resident’s association or community group). Adding Neighbourhood Watch as an agenda item to your meeting can provide opportunity to discuss crime prevention issues in your community. Find a way of working that best suits your group.
When determining how your group will communicate, think about what is convenient for your group. When choosing a method of communication, think about the time, effort and cost involved in the different types –
- Word of mouth
- Text message
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp
Do we need to register with Neighbourhood Watch WA?
Once your group is established, it is recommended your contact the Neighbourhood Watch State Coordinator who will address the group to ensure full understanding and acceptance of the Neighbourhood Watch philosophy.
One decision the group will need to decide is whether to register with Neighbourhood Watch WA. This is recommended if your group will be engaged in activities actively promoting NHW in the local community. By registering your group with Neighbourhood Watch WA you will:-
- Receive regular information and news that we send out.
- Be covered by our Public Liability Insurance policy.
- Be more effective in forming partnerships with your local government authority and police.
- Need to read and comply with our Neighbourhood Watch Guidelines for Volunteers.
- Need all members to register as an Active Volunteer.
If your group decides not to register with Neighbourhood Watch WA then please subscribe to ewatch to receive regular emails from your local Police station to keep you informed about what is happening in your community.
To register your group with Neighbourhood Watch WA contact the Neighbourhood Watch State Coordinator on 9222 1513 or via email.
The role of Police and local government
For groups to be effective, it is recommended that groups engage with their local Council or Shire, and local Police. Although it is unlikely that a representative from your local Police or local government will attend all your meetings, it is important to explore other ways of maintaining contact.
Are there resources available?
Neighbourhood Watch has a number of free resources available to the public.
Please email the NHW State Coordinator for information on what resources are available.
For further information on becoming an active volunteer or forming a NHW group please refer to our NHW Policies and Procedures for Volunteers.