Neighbourhood Watch

Introduction

Neighbourhood Watch is a crime prevention programme aimed at getting local communities, particularly in urban areas, actively involved in observing and reporting suspicious activities. The programme involves creating a partnership between the Gardaí and representatives of the community, which is designed to prevent crime and create a safer social environment.

This document provides an overview of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme in Ireland. It includes information on:

  • How to set up a scheme in your area
  • How to structure and operate a watch scheme; and
  • Links to further information and supports

While Neighbourhood Watch is not a universal remedy for crime. However, such schemes have proven effective in reducing certain types of crime such as burglary and anti-social behaviour.

How to start a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

The impetus to launch a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can come from the local community or from the Gardaí.

If you are interested in establishing a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, it is important that you first talk to local residents to ensure that they are willing to partake. It is crucial that everyone participating in the scheme understands its aims and what they are required to do in order to support it.

Where there is sufficient community support to launch a Neighbourhood Watch initiative, the local Garda Superintendent will generally arrange a meeting with interested citizens at which they will outline local crime trends and ways in which residents can organise to help the Gardaí.

You can find out more about the process of establishing 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 should establish its own procedures and appoint or elect its own officers in a manner appropriate to the locality. However, most schemes involve:

  • An Area Coordinator
  • Street Coordinators
  • A local Garda; and
  • Young People

In most cases, co-ordinators for the various streets and areas are selected and appointed at a public meeting following approval for the establishment of the scheme. The chief role of the co-ordinators is to act as a point of first contact for members of the scheme, to receive and distribute information and to recruit new members.

Through the co-ordinators, other projects such as Property Marking or a local Newsletter may be established. The co-ordinators should hold periodic meetings to discuss different issues as they arise.

It is important to involve young people in Neighbourhood Watch. To this end, 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.

Further information

For more information on Neighbourhood Watch, contact your local Garda station and ask to speak with your Divisional Officer about the possibility of launching a scheme in your area. Contact information for every Garda station in Ireland is available online.

Page edited: 16 November 2020