Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is Neighbourhood Watch?

    It’s a simply scheme that encourages neighbours to look out for the community, take basic crime prevention measures and help the police to keep the street safer.

  • What does it cost?

    It’s free to operate and relies on people in the neighbourhood to volunteer their time. Street signs cost £12 which is the only real set up cost required. Neighbours make donations, sometimes one or two residents buy the signs and sometimes local businesses contribute.

  • Isn’t it just a lot of old busy bodies watching their neighbours?

    Definitely not!  The age range of people involved covers all age ranges. Although on average the neighbour members are most likely to be of the age of 45 years or over. Research shows this age group to be more neighbourly.  An active Watch should have members routinely looking for suspicious behaviour and reporting their concerns to the police. It’s not there for neighbours to be watching neighbours.

  • What’s in it for me?

    Feedback from current members tells us that people feel safer in the street where they live; because they have got to know some neighbours they feel the community spirit. By taking basic sensible crime prevention measures in and around your home you are less likely to experience crimes, such as burglaries.

    You have access to special discounts such as home insurance, locks and physical security and more. You will feel re assured because a good neighbour is keeping an eye on your home while you’re away.

  • Is it easy to join a Watch?

    Yes, you won’t be surprised to hear that most of the process is done on line now. You will need to be on line at home, look up the Cambridgeshire Police website and click on the logo/image e COPs.  Register your name and address and please add your email address and your date of birth. A contact phone number would be helpful also.  Once you have done this e mail to inform the administrator to take it from there.  A basic police check is carried out.  You will need to decide if you just want to be an ordinary household member of an existing scheme or a Watch coordinator. The administrator will contact you and set your Watch up on line. While waiting it would be helpful to talk to at least 4 of your neighbours as part of the new Watch scheme.

  • Do I receive anything else?

    Yes, once we know you are definitely interested a Welcome Pack is posted to you.

  • What if I am not on line and don’t have access to Wi Fi?

    If you don’t have a computer or mobile phone connected to the internet we recommend that you use a family member, friend or a neighbour who has such equipment.

  • How much time is involved?

    That is difficult to measure, usually a coordinator will only use his or her spare time when there are things to do. Once the basics are in place the main ongoing task is to communicate with members and this is done usually by e mail making it an easy and efficient process. The other main task is to receive ALERT messages from the police and other neighbourhood watch organisations.

    No one should be spending too much time on the coordinators role, we strongly recommend that a deputy coordinator is in place, especially if the Watch is larger than 10 members or the Watch is located where there are various ongoing issues to be responded to.  It is vitally important to keep in contact with members.

  • I don’t have time for this?

    See 8. Above.  You can get the assistance you need from other neighbour members. Share some of the tasks between you. Make sure you have a deputy or assistant. There are many full time working coordinators who operate quiet effectively.

  • It’s not my thing really; I usually leave things to the police?

    Clearly the police can’t be everywhere all the time. Everyone shares the same road, footpaths, bin collection services and street lighting. The police are more effective if they can receive reports and information from the community, there is less crime when householders take good crime prevention measures, sometimes there are residents who are less able or have a need to rely on that helpful neighbour. Getting organised together makes so much sense. You and your neighbours are more prepared should a crisis occur or crime affects many of you. There are simply more eyes and ears, more of you looking out. You are putting the odds in your favour by involving yourself.

    Research shows that if you live in an active watch you’re less likely to be burgled.

  • What does a Watch Coordinator do? Is it time consuming?

    A coordinator simply coordinates between the neighbour members and the police primarily communicating with all those involved.  Mostly this is done by e mail. It helps if the coordinator has a deputy to help keep things going.  They receive police messages about crime; provide advice to the members on crime prevention and links in with other local Watches. They help to keep records of members up to date and welcome new comers to the street.

  • People around my area just won’t be interested, they don’t do nosey parkers?

    You may be surprised once who’ve spoken to neighbours, especially when you ask what concerns they have. It is true not everyone is interested or able to be involved. If people just don’t want to get involved then so be it. There’s no point in forcing anyone. Look further on this website at ‘Meeting the Neighbours’ and other ideas.

  • I’m far too busy?

    A little time is needed to register on line. You will need to include sometime to make contact with neighbours. The information in your Welcome Pack can help with this. It is best to get a neighbour or two to help with the Watch so you can share some of the activity. Should you decide to have a large Watch say 20 households or more, you will definitely need a little time but getting other neighbours involved to help makes life much easier. The other frequent activity is to distribute police messages and from Neighbourhood Watch itself. Setting up an e mail group makes sense.   Engaging with your neighbours can be achieved over time in your own timescale. You can register as a coordinator before that activity.

    If you don’t have time for this and you have no help from neighbours then may be this time neighbourhood watch is not for you?

  • I don’t meet other people comfortably; I wouldn’t knock on neighbour’s doors?

    We have found that some neighbours become interested once they see a Watch street sign on display in their street and they hear about some neighbours have set a Watch up. One way is to post a Welcome to Neighbourhood Watch’ leaflet in your neighbour’s front door or a Neighbour to neighbour Invitation slip completed by you. Interested neighbours then can than make the initial contact with you.

  • Where do I get more information from?

    There is a lot of information on the various websites. Take a look at this website, the site and The national website.

  • Some in my street are the cause of the problems?

    Sometimes this happens in some streets. There are many success stories where neighbourhood watch has resolved some very local issues. Depending on the nature of the problem you would contact other organisations such as the police or City Council. If a number of your neighbours can be involved in providing information about the different issues and help getting a solution for all.

  • Do street coordinators and ordinary members talk to each other?

    Yes that’s the important and essential part of an Active Watch. Communications are vital for success. Sometimes neighbours don’t speak your language, they may have different cultures and some are hardly ever at home.  Some foreign language leaflets are available once you know what language the nearby speaks. Other challenges include a neighbour suffering mental health issues and some may feel very lonely isolated.  Please ask for help and advice.

  • Do the police actively support Neighbourhood Watch scheme?

    The Police established neighbourhood watch in the first place. The first Watch was set up in New England,   Peterborough in 1983 by a detective sergeant.

    In recent times the police are under pressure to save resources and work efficiently, they need all the assistance from the public they can get. This is because active neighbourhood watch works.

  • How many Watches are there, in Peterborough? In the Country?

    By the end of 2017 there were 318 Watches in and around the city of Peterborough and 174,000 in England and Wales.  Not all areas of the City and Villages have the Neighbourhood Watch network.

  • If it’s so good why hasn’t everyone got involved in a Watch?

    Neighbourhood Watch is run by volunteers; there is no major funding for promotions and marketing the Watch concept. Often people are not motivated or don’t think about it until they become a victim of crime. Some pre judge what’s involved negatively and conclude it’s not for them deciding they don’t have a need.

    Research by the National Police Council has shown that if the public knew who to contact they would do.