Firstly, contact your neighbours and see if they are interested in starting up a scheme. The more people, the more successful your scheme will be. Don’t worry, not all residents have to be members. As long as you have the support of a significant number of the households (we like to target 50% but less is okay) you can set up a scheme. Each scheme has a co-ordinator and they will liaise with Police, public and the Eastleigh Neighbourhood Watch Association.
What are you waiting for?
HOW TO SET UP A SCHEME IN EASTLEIGH
It is advisable to check that there is not already a Scheme operating in your area. Ask your neighbours or contact the Chairman of Eastleigh Neighbourhood Watch Association (ENWA) with details of your address including postcode.
If you are proposing to set up a new Scheme, here are some things to think about:
- What is the main aim of your Scheme? For example, is there a specific problem you are setting up the Scheme to address?
- What is the area that the proposed Scheme will cover? (see below for more advice)
- A Scheme Coordinator will need to be appointed (usually the Proposer, but not necessarily)
- Do you need a Deputy (recommended)? (A large scheme may benefit from a number of deputies or even a small Committee)
- Do you need to appoint a Treasurer or will the Coordinator do this task? (You will need to purchase initial scheme signs, though NHW ‘roundel’ stickers for each residence will be provided free)
- Consider how to cover the costs of running the Scheme eg for signage (see later), holding meetings or even printing your own newsletters in some cases – how will you raise funds if needed?
- How will you communicate with members and ENWA? (email is preferable but not everyone is on email). (see below for more about the ALERT system)
- How will you communicate with the Neighbourhood Police? (see below)
- How will you deal with requests for new membership?
When considering the area that a Scheme will cover, the most important criterion for this is manageability, which in turn depends on the type of neighbourhood. The Neighbourhood Watch Scheme can be for your own Road, Close, part of a Road, or perhaps a block of flats. In Eastleigh District we have schemes varying in size from 4 properties to more than 80, averaging out at about 30 per scheme. For larger schemes, or areas where houses aren’t in sight of each other, a number of Deputy Coordinators may be needed.
Contact the Chairman initially who will liaise with you or nominate someone in your area to liaise with you.
Talk to your neighbours to see how much interest there is in setting up a Scheme – you will need a significant number of the households to be members if the scheme is to be viable (a target is 50% but don’t worry if this cannot be achieved – talk to ENWA about your proposed scheme area and the actual % of households who will support a scheme). Every household in the target area should receive a letter from you seeking their support for setting up the Scheme. The letter should have a tear-off reply slip to be returned with full contact details (name, address, phone, email). ENWA can provide you with a draft letter you can adapt for this purpose. As Proposer, you should keep these as the basis for a Membership Register (and to meet the requirements of Data Protection – see later).
Each Scheme requires a Coordinator and preferably a (at least one) Deputy. Decide on who may be willing to become Scheme Coordinator or Deputy. The Coordinator should be on email and will be expected to sign up to the Hampshire ALERT community messaging system operated by Hampshire Police. In most new schemes, members also choose to sign up to ALERT to receive these messages directly (this maximises the speed of ALERT communication and reduces dependence upon the Coordinator to pass on this information).
A PCSO will also liaise with you to help set up a scheme. If you don’t know anyone in your local Neighbourhood Policing Team, you can contact your local Police Station by phone (tel 101) or email Eastleigh.email@example.com, or you can contact the ENWA Chairman for assistance. If using email, you should provide the following information:
I would like to start a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Please ask an Officer to contact me.
(If you have not lived in your present address for at least three years, please provide your previous address as well).
Once you have received as many positive responses to your letter as you think you will get, you may want to arrange a start-up meeting (see below) for the interested parties. This may need to be held in a local school or community centre, in which case ENWA will usually pay the hire fee. Alternatively, you could consider using a video conference App such as Zoom or Teams. This launch meeting is not mandatory but usually is a good idea to start the ball rolling.
THE START-UP MEETING
The Start-Up meeting should be on an evening, Monday to Thursday, with a start time no earlier than 7.30 pm. Police participation is very desirable so that needs to be factored into Duty Rosters, and an NHW rep also needs to join in or attend (ENWA will arrange this) to give guidance on how a Scheme works and answer questions about NW.
The last item on the agenda should be a Go/No Go decision and election of Scheme Coordinator and Deputy(ies). Signed forms will record contact information for Scheme Coordinator and Deputy(ies).
Note that Hampshire Police will usually undertake a background check to assure that the Coordinator and Deputies are acceptable. No private information will be disclosed to ENWA.
The Coordinator receives a copy of the Members Guide handbook published by National Neighbourhood Watch and the Police. A copy of the Member’s Guide is also available online.
If you have any difficulties at all then please contact the Chairman of Eastleigh Neighbourhood Watch Association.
It is important to show that the area is part of an active Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Currently the costs of signage is supported by Eastleigh Borough Council so street signs will usually be provided free to new schemes. There is a new simplified process for getting approval to put up NW signs on lamp posts and there is no fee involved (Hampshire Council have kindly agreed not to apply a £30 fee shown on their website). These are details of the permissions application process, in case of difficulty contact ENWA for assistance. This is the current safety advice to be considered when erecting, refurbishing or cleaning NW signs.
It is also important to protect the personal information of your contacts (see also separate guidance on GDPR).
It is good practice when emailing members of your scheme (or prospective members) to send to ‘Undisclosed Recipients’ (yourself) and blind carbon copy (bcc) the recipients so that email everyone’s email addresses are not shared unnecessarily. The recipients won’t know who else has received a copy of the email so you may want to make clear who you have sent it to – eg use a heading “To Prospective Members of the …NW Scheme”.
Also, be careful when forwarding emails that you do not reveal the email addresses or other personal details of the original sender, unless it is appropriate.