Skip to content





Neighbourhood watch <h2 class="sectHeading">​How do neighbourhood watches work?</h2> <span> <p>No one is in a better position than locals to find the source of illegal and dangerous activities in their communities, and this is why neighbourhood watches are so important.<br><br>Find out more about how to join or how to form a watch of your own. </p> <figure class="subtopic-fullsize-img"><img class="responsive" src="" alt="" style="width:1004px;" />​ </figure></span> <h4>Good neighbourhood watch programmes have the following traits in common: </h4><ul><li>People feel a sense of ownership with the programme. They have invested their time and energy in it and it belongs to them.</li><li>The programme is guided by law enforcement agencies.</li><li>Residents see the programme as their own responsibility – they choose to get involved in all stages of planning, from implementation and evaluation to maintenance.</li><li>The programme addresses the everyday crime concerns of residents, such as domestic violence, abandoned cars, vacant plots filled with trash, and drugs and gang activity.</li></ul><p>Concerned residents get together to form a civilian-based security service to reduce crime in their communities. Any resident of a community can join or form a neighbourhood watch, even those who do not own a home or live in the area. A good neighbourhood watch works very closely with our local law enforcement agencies – <a href="">Metropolitan Police Services</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">South African Police Service (SAPS)<i class="icon link-external"></i></a> and <a href="">City Improvement Districts (CIDs)</a> – and helps to keep our city safe.</p><h4>Neighbourhood watches assist our law enforcement teams by:</h4><ul><li>alerting police to suspicious activity;</li><li>identifying stolen property;<br></li><li>doing home security surveys;</li><li>implementing local security precautions;</li><li>helping the community feel safer; and</li><li>building a sense of responsibility in the community.</li></ul><h4>Working with local law enforcement agencies, residents can learn:</h4><ul><li>when and how to report suspicious activities;</li><li>how to assist in property identification;</li><li>how to conduct home security surveys; and</li><li>how to implement effective home security measures and precautions.</li></ul><p>Our law enforcement agencies are the guiding force but people have a sense of ownership around their own security, and that of their communities. </p><h2 class="sectHeading">Starting a neighbourhood watch</h2><p>First, find out as much as possible about your area. If there is an existing neighbourhood watch, <a href="">Community Policing Forum </a>or <a href="">Local/Community Improvement District (CID)</a> in your area, ask if you can join. If none exist, get started on your own! </p><p> <strong>Create a network and start your movement</strong><br>Meet with local leaders, law enforcement agencies like <a href="" target="_blank">Metropolitan Police Services</a>, <a href="">CIDs</a> and the <a href="">SAPS<i class="icon link-external"></i></a>, schools, churches, businesses, private security, and other institutions. Let them know you are starting a neighbourhood watch and make sure you get as much support and advice as possible about how to fight crime safely in your area. </p> <span> <div class="notification with-heading dark-copy pink bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info toptip">​​​</i> </div><div class="desc"><h4>Top tip</h4><p> <b></b>Make sure that your network boundaries are logical and simple. If there are existing security groups in your area, integrate your efforts by making the boundaries of your network fit theirs. Give your neighbourhood watch a name, description and a logo.</p></div></div></span> <p> <strong> Set clear and measurable goals</strong><br>Calculate how many incidents of particular crimes happen each month in your neighbourhood watch. Target the crimes that are the most common – these will probably include:</p><ul><li>theft out of a vehicle;</li><li>theft of a vehicle; and</li><li>housebreaking.</li></ul><p>Figure out when, where and how these incidents occur. Then plot your monthly progress to try and tackle these issues. You will find that when the incidents of crime are narrowed down, the challenges you face are not actually that overwhelming. </p><p> <strong>Find out about local crimes and crime hotspots </strong> <br> People will only join your neighbourhood watch and take an interest in it if it is useful. Your neighbourhood watch will only be useful if it contains lots of data about crime in the area. It is critical that you obtain a list of crimes or crime hotspots from your local police station, private security company or other sources. This information needs to be updated regularly.</p><p> <strong>Promote your neighbourhood watch on the ground</strong><br> When you have accumulated data, invite all residents and businesses in your neighbourhood watch area to join. You need to let residents know about the progress your neighbourhood watch is making or how strong your team is. Hand out fliers and put up posters to let people know more and encourage their involvement.</p><p> <strong>Implement strategies on the ground</strong><br> By this stage, you should have a good idea of the challenges your community faces as well a functioning team of volunteers. You now need to implement a strategy to make a difference on the ground. Below are some suggestions:</p><ul><li>Start a neighbourhood patrol roster whereby residents walk in pairs around the neighbourhood for an hour a week. Try to target areas where there are known problems.</li><li>Set up security cameras in key areas (if funds are available).</li><li>Set up fake security cameras everywhere else.</li><li>Meet more regularly with your local security company and hold them to a performance contract.</li><li>Meet more regularly with your local <a href="" target="_blank">SAPS<i class="icon link-external"></i></a> and form stronger relationships with them.</li><li>Identify local sources of anti-social or criminal behaviour and work with the authorities to take action against them. These often include drugs and alcohol establishments.</li></ul><p> <strong>Start a two-way radio neighbourhood watch</strong><br> This is the most critical part of your project and can seriously reduce crime in your neighbourhood. Each household and business needs to join a two-way radio neighbourhood watch that will allow constant communication across the watch. This will allow the community to be informed of threats to their security and will allow for a coordinated response to incidents. </p><div class="notification with-heading dark-copy pink bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info toptip"></i> </div><div class="desc"><h4>Top tip</h4><p> You don’t have to invest in radios if you lack the funds. While you are raising money, use the internet and social media. Twitter works as the modern "walkie-talkie". Also, take each other’s numbers down and use instant messaging apps like Whatsapp or SMS to communicate. </p></div></div><p> <strong>Organise local meetings</strong><br>You can now convert the momentum you have built on Turn It Around into real change on the ground. Set up a community meeting to discuss the way forward, involving all stake holders of the community, including residents, businesses, police, private security as well as local schools and churches. Your meetings may take the form of a braai or a litter clean-up project on a Sunday afternoon. Why not turn it into a party in the local park? This is a great way to get to know your neighbours and build relationships of mutual trust.</p><p> <strong>Start a website or a newsletter</strong><br>Make your neighbourhood watch interesting by posting an analysis of recent trends and challenges online or in a newsletter. Make sure people know how to get hold of you and the team. Try to post positive news showing progress made and the potential that your community has to dramatically improve its security.</p><p> <strong>Finally – link up with nearby neighbourhood watch networks</strong><br>By this stage you should have made your neighbourhood watch an island of security and efficiency. Well – as they say in Cape Town – make the circle bigger. By linking up with other neighbourhood watches in your area, you can share information and resources, and create stronger and better organised areas.</p>GP0|#531b2b38-acb4-40cd-add6-40686df47a74;L0|#0531b2b38-acb4-40cd-add6-40686df47a74|Neighbourhood watch;GTSet|#ef3a64a2-d764-44bc-9d69-3a63d3fadea1;GPP|#5304393b-2d4f-4ade-9667-f7f72a15928f;GPP|#36dcb5fe-6bfc-4ae9-92d7-8bd08d1f6414;GPP|#af370586-9ba3-404a-9d6e-02066ca42752;GP0|#422e21a8-315f-4aa3-bdef-a038eefc3cf4;L0|#0422e21a8-315f-4aa3-bdef-a038eefc3cf4|Neighbourhood watch;GPP|#4e24a9e3-0ea2-46ba-a192-615c4c57f93d;GPP|#df0a3405-0ca1-4617-8047-15a034219fee;GPP|#245ec7aa-a528-4cd3-bcac-597c292db711How neighbourhood watches work and how you can join up or start your own.0





You have disabled JavaScript on your browser.
Please enable it in order to use City online applications.