Forming A Neighbourhood Watch - Formal Or Informal
A formal neighbourhood watch involves contacting your local police liason officer, acquiring pamphlets and canvasing your neighbours. Once you have
about 50%-80% of residents signed up, then your police service will recognize your group as a neighbourhood watch. What if you cannot get at least
50% signed up but you would still like a neighbourhood watch? Perhaps an informal watch will work for you.
An informal neighbourhood watch is just one where concerned neighbours have gotten together but do not have enough members for their
local police to recognize them. With the internet and websites like this one, it is much easier today for any number of neighbours
to get together and form a neighbourhood watch. Over time, it could even grow to meet the requirements of the police.
It is easier and perhaps quicker to start an informal neighbourhood watch as less members are required and if it becomes popular enough then
it may grow into a formal watch. The long term desire would be to have a formal watch. The need for a neighbourhood captain to communicate crime trends is
no longer required with neighbours keeping each other informed electronically as well as this website links to police services` crime bulletins and crime maps.
Why Bother Joining And Forming a Watch?
Police resources can only do so much and can only be in so many places at one time so it is important for citizens to take some responsibility for their personal and neighbourhood safety.
Also, some Canadian police services have started downsizing. ie. Calgary Downsizing
and Toronto Downsizing.
In recent years in the GTA, police services stopped attending traffic accidents where no one was taken by ambulance to the hospital. These collisions are now handled at Collision Reporting Centres. Property crimes like theft from vehicles,
stolen vehicles, shoplifting, damage to property, etc. now are reported online with your local police or over the phone. Police rarely attend. Academics like Patrick Sharkey, author of Uneasy Peace, advocate
that police services are not needed as much for public safety and that citizens can take up more responsibility for their neighbourhoods. March 2018 saw the approval of the Safer Ontario Act which allows for non-police agencies to
perform some of the duties traditionally done by police.
In Toronto, the Transformational Task Force report from 2016 suggested downsizing from 17 police stations down to 10 stations amongst other reductions.
With a 35% reduction in TPS police stations, service and response times are more likely to get worse rather than better.
This trend will likely continue with the direction that society is going, placing
a greater burden on citizens for their own safety.
With fewer police officers responding to crimes, citizens need to do more to help report and solve these crimes. Neighbourhood watch organizes residents into a better mode of communication
and ones with cameras can help gather video evidence of perpetrators and suspicious vehicles.
Meta-analysis shows that neighbourhood watch reduces crime by about 16% (Source, see "Summary of the results"). It also aides in an investigation
because it informs neighbours with cameras that a crime has occurred and they can check their video for a possible perpetrator or suspicious vehicle, something that likely would not happen without a watch.
It is free and therefore one of the cheapest ways to protect
your property and neighbourhood. Automation has made it almost effortless so there is no reason not to sign up and start a neighbourhood watch.
There are several different types of neighbourhood watch schemes. Here is a list of the most common ones and their advantanges and disadvantages.