WHY NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH?

Who needs it? I’m already doing all that stuff. Dead bolt locks, keeping an eye on strangers, knowing who’s on vacation, whatever, I don’t need someone to come in here to tell me how to do it. A rugged individualist; the world needs more of them. Many citizens, especially in rural areas, have always lived by the motto of “people helping people”—they were “neighbourhood watching” long before anyone thought of establishing a formal program, and they don’t need to be told how to be good neighbours. Does the Neighbourhood Watch Program have anything to offer to people such as these? People form associations to achieve collective goals, and associations give focus and voice to the ideas and energies of its members when there are problems to be solved or issues to address. People form associations to protect the environment, to oppose drunk drivers, to save heritage buildings…and also to prevent crime. An obvious advantage to participation in Neighbourhood Watch is that it facilitates access to program literature, Neighbourhood Watch signage, and Community Police Centre (CPC) infrastructure services, e.g. photocopiers, fax machines, etc., but more importantly, it facilitates a linking of arms with your neighbours and your police service, both at neighbourhood and city-wide levels, to address crime prevention issues.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH? NO OFFENSE, BUT I VALUE MY PRIVACY. I MIND MY OWN BUSINESS AND I EXPECT MY NEIGHBOURS TO DO THE SAME. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?” Nothing at all. We all value our privacy. But Neighbourhood Watch is simply a program designed to help prevent neighbourhood crime – it could be physical assaults, vandalism, or whatever is deemed as a crime in progress or suspicious. One of the ways its members achieve this goal is by being alert to the behavior of strangers. A Watch isn’t meant to be a Social Club, but it’s a whole lot easier to identify strangers once you get to know your neighbours and for this reason, watched neighbourhoods do tend to be more cohesive, caring communities. So, bottom line, it really comes down to deciding what kind of a community you want to live in, and what level of participation makes it work for you.

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