Neighbourhood Watch FAQs
What is Neighbourhood Watch?
Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) was started when it was realised that the Police alone could not to contain or prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, in particular burglary and related thefts. It is both a philosophy and an approach to working together as a community to enhance the safety of families and other people, who live, visit and do business in their neighbourhood. It also encourages interaction and a shared sense of responsibility between individuals, neighbours and communities for preventing and reducing crime.
NHW areas report becoming much more aware of the need to secure their homes and other property, and of becoming much more vigilant. It is also apparent that residents are more confident about reporting suspicious activity and, where they have witnessed crimes taking place, presenting evidence in support of prosecution.
As a result, a number of Police Forces were able to confirm that crime had reduced in NHW areas and, correspondingly, residents were able to report reductions in the fear of crime. It is clear that in many parts of the country NHW has played a significant role in improving people’s quality of life and in fostering community spirit.
The program has been so successful that there are now many thousands of Neighbourhood Watch areas servicing both city and rural locations. Approximately half the population live in Neighbourhood Watch areas.
The Police Service is committed to working in partnership with the community and greatly appreciates the outstanding contribution that the many NHW groups and volunteers make for a safer and more secure existence for all.
The mission of NHW is to:
Encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together to reduce crime and improve community safety.
How does a Neighbourhood Watch Area start?
To start an Area, several requirements must be met that include the size and population of the proposed area.
Other factors such as the crime rate and community interest in the area are also considered by the District Neighbourhood Watch Police Coordinator before starting an Area.
Where is Neighbourhood Watch?
Neighbourhood Watch can operate anywhere in NSW that is shown to have a need for the program.
The program operates within a local community where there is a demonstrated community desire to undertake the program. 50% of NSW is already covered by the Neighbourhood Watch Program.
How much time do I need to be in NHW?
To be an active NHW participant only needs you to be vigilant and relate to you neighbours and surroundings, then take a little time to note and or relate situations or incidence to either you local coordinator or crime-stoppers or the police.
You may wish to be involved at local, district or state level which might take as little as a couple of hours per month.
What is the Neighbourhood Watch ‘Personal Accident Insurance’?
This is the Insurance Policy against which you claim as a volunteer sustaining an injury while doing an authorised task for Neighbourhood Watch (eg. delivering local area newsletters, assisting at events by NHW, etc).
The premium is normally paid by your area direct to the insurance company. The premium is calculated by multiplying the number of volunteers by the current rate set by the insurance company. If you have twenty volunteers and the rate is $1.25 then the premium for the area $25.00. If you need to claim on this policy, see your Area Insurance Representative.
This is not to be confused with a Public Liability Insurance Policy.
Police and Crime FAQs
What is a PLO?
A PLO (Police Liaison Officer) is nominated by your local Police Station Commander. The PLO may be permanently rostered to this role or the PLO may change each time you meet with him/her.
The PLO is an operational police officer and can be of any rank, although generally speaking they are a Constable, Senior Constable or a Sergeant.
As the title implies, your area’s PLO is there to liaise with your area. Part of the PLO’s role may be to attend your NHW area meetings and furnish appropriate crime information, general details of arrests in your area, answer your questions and discuss local non-political issues with you. They are an invaluable aid and resource to be utilised to assist in the smooth running of your area.
When should I call the Police?
Call the Police whenever you see a crime being committed or when you believe that a crime will soon be committed due to something suspicious happening.
It may be as simple as a person sitting in a car in the street for some time. It is much better for the Police to investigate and ascertain that a crime has not been committed, than for your neighbour to be the victim of a crime.
Home Security FAQs
How can I improve my home’s security?
Step 1: Join Neighbourhood Watch
If you are not an online member of Neighbourhood Watch, you may like to join and receive emails about crime prevention in your local area from your local police. You might also like to check EyeWatch on Facebook for up to the minute information in your area.
If you are already an online member, you may like to consider becoming a street representative. Maybe ask your neighbours to do the same – your neighbours are your most valuable security asset.
Step 2: Marking of valuables
The engraving of your driver’s licence number on household property is strongly recommended. Engrave the letters NSW before the numbers to indicate your location.
When the engraved item is sold or disposed of, engrave the letter “S” after your driver’s licence number to indicate change of ownership. To obtain an engraver please contact your local crime prevention officer or Neighbourhood Watch coordinator.
Step 3: Fences, trees and shrubs
Your trees and shrubs should be trimmed or the front fence lowered to allow a clear view of your house. This will remove hiding places for the “would be” offender and improve your neighbour’s visibility should you need assistance.
Step 4: Backyard security
Consider putting up fences or other barriers, such as garage doors at either side of your home. This will make it more difficult for an offender to enter and work in the “safety” of your backyard. Also ensure that all tools are stored away and outbuildings are locked securely.
Step 5: Lighting
Good lighting, such as flood lamps, should be installed to minimise hiding spots for the “would be” offender, particularly while you are at home. “Motion sensor” or “reactive” lighting is excellent for this and is quite inexpensive to buy and install.
Step 6: Protect your power supply
Have a viewing window installed in the lid of your meter box, and a Western Power approved padlock or key lock installed. Circuit breaker switches installed within the home are also an advantage, but the meter box must still be locked.
Step 7: Door locks
Have door locks fitted without delay. Normal key in the knob locks, which are fitted to most homes, are a burglar’s delight. These locks must be backed up with a security lock. Fit a key operated lock (commonly referred to as a patio door bolt) to aluminium sliding doors. Do not rely upon manufacturer fitted locks or catches.
Step 8: Window locks
Windows that are not fitted with key operated locks are an easy target for offenders, and will offer little or no resistance. Key operated locks provide a much greater level of security than manufacturer fitted catches, there is a lock for every type of window. Remember, do not leave the keys in the locks.
Step 9: Security screens and doors
Have security screens fitted to the doors or portion of the windows that are left open for ventilation. This will prevent an offender from “walking in” on you. Remember, although security screens and doors increase your security, they are for use when you are at home. Ensure the doors are “key locked” as the latch (snib) device on many doors does not achieve maximum security.
Step 10: Alarms
Consider the installation of an Australian Standard 2201 approved burglar alarm. Intruders are far less likely to break into a house with an alarm system. An alarm will usually only tell you after an offender has entered your home. For immediate response to an alarm, the use of a monitoring service will make arrangements for your premises to be checked. All security products should be installed by licensed security installers
Step 11: Your Wallet/Purse
The contents of your wallet contain an enormous amount of personal information that criminals can use to gain access to your bank accounts, create false identities and run up huge expenses on your credit cards.
The cost and inconvenience, which results from lost or stolen wallets containing this high level of personal information, is enormous. However, there are some precautions that can be taken by anyone to ensure that, should your wallet be stolen or lost, you can take action promptly and the information contained within it is less likely to be used for criminal gain.
- Keep a copy of the personal information (driver’s licence, Medicare card, EFTPOS cards, etc) and credit card details contained in your wallet. This can be done quite simply by photocopying this material and storing these photocopies in a secure place (other than your wallet).
- Should your wallet be lost or stolen, report that loss immediately to the police within the jurisdiction in which it was lost/stolen. Prompt and timely reporting of the loss will aid any police investigation.
- Your credit card provider(s) also will need to be contacted promptly and advised as to which other personal information (such as your driver’s licence or passport) was lost/stolen along with the credit card(s). A fraud alert will be issued against the card. This prompt advice will mean that thieves are greatly restricted in the fraudulent use of this personal information to purchase goods, as credit card identity verification, to apply for credit, or to withdraw cash against your card.
What are Burglary prevention Scams?
Be wary of itinerant trades-people offering ‘good deals’ on home repairs, security devices or home improvement jobs.
Remember if it seems ‘too good to be true’ it usually is.
Always obtain three quotes so you can compare prices with other companies and make sure there is a 10-day cooling off period if you decided to buy.
What is a Home Safety Audit and do I need one?
A safety audit of your home can identify areas where security can be improved.
The following sample check-list can be used to review your home security. If you answer NO to any of the following questions, you should consider improving or upgrading the security for your home.
- Is the house number clearly visible from the street?
- Are trees and shrubs trimmed to eliminate hiding places?
- Do the front and rear doors have a solid core?
- Are the doors fitted with a deadlock and/or deadbolt?
- Are security screens fitted to doors?
- Does the door have a door viewer (peephole)?
- Are the windows fitted with key operated locks or security devises?
- Are your locks keyed alike so that one key opens all doors or windows?
- Does the house have an automatic light timer or sensor activated lights?
- Are lights left on when you go out?
- Is there adequate lighting at the main entry and exits?
- Is there a telephone extension in the main bedroom?
- Are emergency numbers keyed into the telephone?
- Do you have an alarm? If so, is it always used and serviced regularly?
- Is the garage/shed securely locked?
- Is the meter box locked?
- Are tools/ladders secure?
- Is property engraved or marked for personal identification?
- Has valuable property been photographed?
- Have serial numbers been recorded?
- Are you a member of Neighbourhood Watch?
- Have “WARNING” stickers been stuck to windows advising that property has been marked for identification?
- Do you have a dog?
Where can I obtain an engraver or ultraviolet marking pen?
Engravers can be obtained from hardware stores and other select local stores. Ultraviolet Markers are also available from larger Newsagents or Office Supply retailers.
Your local Neighbourhood Watch coordinator can also assist you to locate a nearby supplier of these items.
What items should I mark?
Inside your home, outside your home and in your vehicle.
- MP3 players
- Game consoles
- DVD players & recorders
- Kitchen appliances
- Sporting goods
- Musical equipment
- Computer equipment
- Satellite navigation devices
- Radios (e.g. Two way radios)
- Mag wheels
- Tool boxes
- Car stereo systems
- Portable DVD players
- Power tools
- Lawn mowers
- Garden tools
- Tool boxes
What sort of security should I use?
Intruders are far less likely to break into a house that has an alarm system. Having said that, there are literally dozens of alarm systems available.
Regardless of how good the alarm system may be, if it is installed incorrectly or is poorly situated, it is of limited use.
It is important to have a reputable police licensed consultant install your alarm system and ensure that it complies with the Australian Standard 2001.
We recommend that you get three quotes from at least three licensed security companies and always ask to see their security licence and identification.
Do I use a lock or an alarm?
Locks and alarms are both important, and serve different purposes. Whilst an alarm will tell you if an offender has tried to enter your house, your door and window locks will keep them out.
Prevention is better than cure. You should fit and use locks to all external doors and windows. More importantly, be sure that your door and window locks are effective before fitting an alarm system.
Most alarms have battery backup in case the power supply is cut, as well as a panic button so you can set off the alarm if you suspect there is an intruder in your home. There are alarms which can be activated with a keypad and others by remote control.
Other options available for home alarms include smoke alarms, medical alert buttons and 24 hour-a-day monitoring by a monitoring station.
For more information on Home Security, Neighbourhood Watch or to arrange a free home security appraisal by one of our Police Officers, please contact your local NHW representative or Local Police District Crime Prevention Officer.
What is burglary?
A Burglary is committed if: A person or persons enters or is in the place of another person, without that other person’s consent, with intent to commit an offence in that place and is liable.
Consider this. Most home burglaries are committed by persons who are spur-of-the-moment opportunists. They simply see an opportunity and take it. If you, the householder take the view that security is an everyday reality then the action of closing a window or door will become second nature to you.
This security conscious attitude will provide the key to reducing the risk of a burglary on your home.
What to do if you’re burgled?
- If you suspect someone is inside your home, do not go inside. Go to a neighbour’s house and contact the police.
- If you see an intruder leaving, make a note or memorise a description of them, the vehicle and number plate.
- If the burglar has gone, do not touch anything until police are contacted to preserve possible fingerprints.
- Itemise what has been taken. Keep notes, you may even notice items missing several days after the burglary.
- Contact your insurance company and arrange for an assessor to visit your home.
- Immediately report stolen credit cards and cheque books to your bank.
- Check with your neighbours if they noticed anything suspicious.
- Re-evaluate your home security.
You should notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the offence.
You will need to supply your incident report details to them and they may check with the police to confirm the details of the offence. Remember to quote the whole incident report number.
Facts about home burglars
Most burglars want to take as much out of your house as they can and sell it as fast as they can, for as much money as they can get.
In a large number of burglaries, offenders enter through an unlocked door or window.
Their primary targets are expensive items that are highly portable and easy to dispose of.
They are not usually shy so they’ll not only walk right in if the door’s open or unlocked, many of them don’t really care if you are busy elsewhere in the house.
The reality is, repeat burglaries can, and do happen, and usually within six months. Often this is because the factors that originally made the home an attractive target still exist.
Some simple and inexpensive steps to improve security can be a positive step towards regaining peace of mind and reducing the risk of another burglary.
Who do I report a burglary to?
You need to report a burglary by calling 131 444.
You will need to tell the operator:
- Where the burglary was committed
- Between what time(s)
- Between what date(s)
- Did you see anything suspicious?
- Car (make, model, colour, number plate, features, damage)
- Person (gender, age, height, build, race, hair colour and length, clothing, features)
What will be the police response to your burglary report?
When you call 131 444 to report your burglary, the call-taker will obtain all the required information from you.
This information will be entered as an incident report on the police computer system. The call-taker will give you the incident report (IR) number. The number is 14 or 15 digits long and is a reference number for your burglary report. Record the number and keep it handy. You will need it for any insurance claim and if you want to speak to the police about the burglary.
The police will ask what was stolen but you may be unable to supply all the details at that time (makes, models, serial numbers etc).
Gather all this information together and give it to the police as soon as possible.
What will the police do after a burglary?
The attending officers would have looked at where the offenders entered your home and decided if there might be some forensic evidence such as fingerprints and DNA.
They may take some items away from your house for evidence or examination.
The attending officers may request a Police Forensic Officer make contact with you and they may attend and examine your house for evidence. Usable fingerprints are difficult to obtain so don’t be surprised or disappointed if they don’t get anything.
What happens to your report?
All offences are recorded on the police computer. They are then allocated for inquiry by the appropriate officer(s) in the district.
All offences are collated,which allows police to identify crime trends and target patrols to areas of high crime.
Many burglaries remain unsolved, however they remain on record and are reactivated if further evidence is discovered.