Community Crime Prevention Programmes
Community Crime Prevention Programmes give people an opportunity to work with Gardaí (the Irish police) tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in their local area.
This page gives information on the 3 main Community Crime Prevention Programmes in Ireland:
- Neighbourhood Watch – a programme for urban areas
- Community Alert – a scheme developed for rural areas
- Text Alert – an email and SMS warning system that allows Gardaí to communicate quickly with large numbers of local participants
You can read more about community policing and crime prevention on the Garda Síochana website.
Neighbourhood Watch is a crime prevention programme aimed at getting local communities in urban areas to observe and report suspicious activities to the Gardaí.
The programme is a partnership between the Gardaí and representatives of the community to prevent crime and create a safer social environment.
How to start a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
If you are interested in establishing a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, contact your local Garda Station. The scheme may be set up in response to community demand or because of Garda contact.
A Garda will tell you what has to be done and will help to organise your first meeting. Before you set up a scheme, talk to local residents to see if they will support it. It is important to make sure that everyone taking part understands what the scheme is about.
Every community or neighbourhood, no matter how large or small, can set up a scheme. A scheme can cover a single street, an apartment complex, or a part or the whole of a housing estate.
You can find out more about how to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme on the Garda Síochana website.
How does Neighbourhood Watch work?
There is no standard structure for a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Every group can set its own procedures and appoint or elect its own officers in a way that suits them. However, most schemes involve:
- An Area Coordinator
- A Street Coordinator
- A local Garda
- Young People
In most cases, co-ordinators for the various streets and areas are appointed at a public meeting following approval for the establishment of the scheme. The co-ordinators are the main contact for members of the scheme. They also receive and distribute information and recruit new members.
Co-ordinators can help set up other projects such as Property Marking or a local Newsletter. The co-ordinators should hold meetings to discuss different issues as they arise.
It is important to involve young people in Neighbourhood Watch. There are successful crime prevention and community safety initiatives aimed at Transition Year students. A number of Neighbourhood Watch schemes have involved young people in sporting and environmental activities.
You can read more about youth outreach and Neighbourhood Watch on the Garda Síochána website.
The Community Alert programme is a community safety programme for rural communities. It places an emphasis on older and more vulnerable people.
The programme aims to improve the quality of life in rural communities by:
- Reducing opportunities for crimes to take place
- Encouraging neighbourliness and self-reliance
- Promoting accident prevention and personal safety
Community alert groups
The Community Alert programme operates through a network of community alert groups, each of which is responsible for a particular area. A group may be set up in response to community demand or as a result of Garda contact. There are over 1,250 groups throughout the country.
Each group has an elected Community Alert Committee which manages the group and a Community Alert Area Coordinator who keeps contact with a Garda Liaison Officer. Resource materials are provided by the Garda Síochána.
Text Alert enables communities to set up a group to receive alerts telling them of suspicious or criminal activity in their area. Sending the information by text means that information can be spread rapidly to a large amount of people in a cost-effective way.
Text Alert is a one-way system and generally operates in the following manner:
- A member of the public reports an incident to the local 24-hour Garda District telephone number
- The reporting Garda investigates details of the reported incident and decides that the Text Alert system should be used
- The reporting Garda sends a text or e-mail out to each registered "Community Contact” in their Garda District
- Each "Community Contact” forwards the text to their "Community Group” to tell the public about the incident and to report any developments
- If the information is received by e-mail, the Community Contact may forward the e-mail or change the content to SMS Text and send to their Community Group
For more information on Neighbourhood Watch, contact your local Garda station and ask to speak with your Divisional Officer about launching a scheme in your area. Contact information for every Garda station in Ireland is available online.
If you live in a Community Alert area, your local Garda station has the contact details for your local Community Alert Group.
If you are interested in setting up a Community Alert Group in your area, contact your local Gardaí or a Muintir na Tíre Community Alert Development Officer.