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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. Midland Police (ON) actually disbanded February 8, 2018. OPP took over for Midland Police but only hired 2/3 of the Midland officers, potentially downsizing the police in that area by 33%.

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.

In 2018 in Toronto, despite all the shootings, TPS announced in September 2018 that they are reducing the number of officers in their Guns & Gangs Unit due to "realignment". A quote from the article: "But the fact remains, like other areas of the service, these units have seen a reduction in numbers as members retire, resign..." This quote not only states that the Guns & Gangs Unit is reducing but that "other areas of the service" are also reducing, a year with 81 homicides as of September 27, 2018.

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.

Forming A Neighbourhood Watch - Formal Or Informal

A formal neighbourhood watch involves contacting your local police liaison 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.

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Improving Neighbourhood Watch Through Automation