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Neighborhood Watch: What India Must Learn From Abroad?

July 13 2015

They show that communities that have adopted Neighborhood Watch are 43% less likely to have crime committed in their area.

Neighborhood Watch programs have gained popularity in countries like United Kingdom (UK) and USA (United States of America). The Delhi police have been the pioneer in introducing such a scheme in India. This scheme involves issuing ID cards, forming committees and holding regular meetings to reduce crime. Neighborhood Watch is a relatively new concept in India and yet to gain popularity.

Neighborhood Watch - What is it?

A group of citizens develop an organized group to keep tab on each other's properties, and patrol the streets. They may also involve police and local associations as the scheme cannot be successful without their support.

The participating members keep their eyes open and report any suspicious behavior to the police or relevant authorities. It does not mean vigilante justice where citizens take the law into their own hands. This scheme reduces opportunities to commit crime for anti-social elements. It also instills fear in the mind of potential criminals as they know they are being watched. The obvious result is reduced crime!

How to go about it?

Community members join together to organize meetings and solicit participation of other members. They contact local authorities and police for support. Publicizing the scheme is essential for its success.

Pick up the model followed abroad and add a few specific activities to cater to Indian environment. For instance, crimes committed by domestic help can be easily avoided by carrying out proper police verification. Since security devices are not very popular in India, Neighborhood Watch schemes can encourage residents to install security cameras, burglar alarms and other anti-theft devices.

Learn Some Benefits

Besides the primary benefit of reducing crimes and burglaries, it has a few added advantages:

1. Fosters police - community relations as it involves interactions of community members with the police

2. Facilitates associations with neighbors as they get to know each other

3. Instills a sense of participation and belongingness to the community

Neighborhood Watch - Global Scenario

Neighborhood watch is a highly evolved concept in the western countries. It is formed through initiative of community members. Sometimes, people join existing Neighborhood Watch schemes. Information related to them is available from websites and other sources. There are around 1,50,000 such schemes across UK.

A Few Tips

Want to set up a scheme in your area? Take the initiative to set up neighborhood watch. These few simple steps will guide you in running a scheme in your locality:

1. Spread the Word: Educate members and generate awareness to create enthusiasm

2. Conduct Regular Meetings: Conduct regular meetings and ensure that everyone participates in them

3. Make People Talk: Give everyone an opportunity to express their views to learn about different activities and strategies to counter burglars

4. Don't Reinvent the Wheel: Integrate existing associations such as citizens groups and co-operative housing societies with Neighborhood Watch associations

5. Work Together: Co-operation with police and local authorities is essential for the success of any such scheme

Neighborhood Watch as a concept is yet to take off in India. There are only a few pilot projects in a handful of Indian cities. Awareness is the need of the hour. So take the initiative and bring about a change.


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