Neighborhood watch programs

Topics: Crime, Neighborhood watch, Criminology Pages: 7 (2167 words) Published: November 18, 2013
Criminal Justice
7 November 2013
Neighborhood Watch Programs


In the middle of the night a thief breaks into a house. There is no one in a better position to call the police than a neighbor. They are more likely to hear or see any suspicious activity. The likelihood of law enforcement observing such activity is very low. This fact is what has made neighborhood watch programs incredibly popular within the past two decades. The participation in neighborhood watch programs has nearly doubled within the past ten years according to a crime survey taken in the United Kingdom. Despite the prevalence of neighborhood watch programs, crime rates have not diminished. This begs the question: are neighborhood watch programs effective? In order to answer this, one must consider how these programs are intended to work, where they are implemented, and look at research that has been done on these programs (Huck & Kosfeld, 2007). BODY

Active participation by neighbors is the key element that leads to a successful neighborhood watch program. Upon becoming a member of a neighborhood watch program, an individual is agreeing to call the police immediately when the suspect criminal activity is taking place. Members of a watch program also attempt to convince other individuals in the neighborhood to participate. Studies show that recruitment of new members is easiest when more crime has been occurring in the neighborhood or surrounding community. When crime rates are low, people are not as willing to participate in a watch program. Studies have also shown that when a person becomes a member of a watch program, they are more likely to have anxiety about becoming a victim of a crime. Needless to say, without willing individuals that are active participants, a neighborhood watch program will be ineffective (Hedayati Marzbali, Abdullah, Razak & Maghsoodi Tilaki, 2012).

Neighborhood watch programs also attempt to reduce crime by removing opportunities for a crime to be committed. For example, a home is less likely to be invaded when it appears that it is currently occupied. Many burglaries occur when homeowners are out of town. Neighbors can assist in creating signs of occupancy. They can remove newspapers from the driveway, mow the lawn, and fill up trash cans. Signs of occupancy effect an offender’s perception and make them believe that there is a greater chance of being caught (Bennett, Holloway & Farrington, 2006).

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is a multi-disciplinary approach to minimizing criminal behavior through environmental design. This approach looks at several factors that make certain areas and individuals more at risk when it comes to being a victim of crime. Studies have shown a possible link between demographic characteristics such as age, family size, and length of residence in the area to the likelihood of becoming a victim. It is interesting that length of residence is a factor. However, it makes sense due to the fact that when individuals reside in an area for a good amount of time, they are likely to develop strong friendships and ties to the community. Community involvement suggests that there is residential stability in that area. Residential stability occurs when individuals tend to stay in the same area. Residential instability is related to crime and other social problems and usually occurs in poor, urban neighborhoods (Hedayati Marzbali, Abdullah, Razak & Maghsoodi Tilaki, 2012).

In 1989, the International Crime Victims Survey (ICVS) indicated that burglary rates varied according to different house types and sizes. Van Dijk acquired data from several different countries and found that semi-detached and detached houses had higher risk of burglary compared to terraced houses and flats. This could be because there is a higher probability of not getting caught in a home that is detached. Mawby found that 84% of burglars report that detached houses are the most attractive...

References: Bennett, T., Holloway, K., & Farrington, D. (2006). Does neighborhood watch reduce crime? a systematic review and meta-analysis. . Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2(4), 437-458. Retrieved from
Hedayati Marzbali, M., Abdullah, A., Razak, N., & Maghsoodi Tilaki, M. (2012). The relationship between socio-economic characteristics, victimization and cpted principles: evidence from the mimic model. . Crime, Law & Social Change, 58(3), 351-371. Retrieved from
Huck, S., & Kosfeld, M. (2007). The dynamics of neighbourhood watch and norm enforcement. Economic Journal, 117(516), 270-286. Retrieved from
Schultz, P. W., & Tabanico, J. (2009). Criminal beware: A social norms perspective on posting public warning signs. Criminology, 47(4), 1201-1222. Retrieved from
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