Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) turns 40 this year and recently celebrated the milestone.
22 November 2022

Importantly, acknowledgement of the contribution to NHW, and crime prevention generally, in Western Australia by Superintendent Jim King (who sadly passed away at 66 years of age in 2008) was able to be recognised and highlighted.

Jim transferred from CIB to the Public Relations Branch to head up the newly formed Crime Prevention Bureau in 1976.  Having sourced information from the local and Eastern States security industry, he was keen to learn more about crime prevention trends internationally and was lucky enough to be granted a Rotary Scholarship to study overseas models in America, UK and New Zealand.

Despite Sir Robert Peel's core ideas in 1829 outlining the goal of policing being to prevent crime rather than catch criminals, and that every community member must share the responsibility for preventing crime, crime prevention was not seen as a high priority for police in Western Australia at the time.  Jim was first introduced to the NHW program in Louisville, USA while visiting as a guest of the American Police College in the early 1980's.

Jim documented his experience of the the locals as "vigilantes, who were armed and drove around their neighbourhoods looking for strangers or anyone acting suspiciously", but it seemed to be working.  While he quickly realised this wasn't the right fit for Perth, he did like the concept of neighbours looking out for neighbours.

In October 1981, Jim travelled to New Zealand to meet with his policing counterpart in Auckland.  It was here that Jim was able to see NHW working in an environment very close to the Australian way of life, so he began the process of introducing the program to the WA Police Force, emphasising that community involvement was essential to police work.

On 27 October 1982, the WA Police Force became the first service in Australia to implement NHW with a pilot program in Bunbury.

During his role in the Public Relations Branch, Jim also conducted security appraisals for homeowners and became aware of the lack of knowledge and attention which existed in relation to home security.  He began educating the community about simple measures including alarms, lights, locks and security doors, while explaining the impact his could have in reducing opportunistic crime.

In addition to NHW, Jim co-founded Crime Stoppers WA in 1994, chaired the Constable Care Child Safety Foundation and was one of the first to promote stronger links between the private security industry and police, holding the position of President of the Security Agents Institute of WA.

Jim retired from the WA Police Force on 30 September 1996 after 27 years of service (1969 - 1996).

Today, 40 years later, NHW stills supports both traditional volunteers and an ever increasing online community.  The program exists in every State and Territory in Australia and features one of the country's most publicly recognised logos - a great legacy to Jim's determination to raise the profile of crime prevention.