STREETWATCH

Frequently Asked Questions  


The responses to the following questions are supplied by Street Watch as an independent organisation. They do not necessarily represent the views of any other agency.

Is Street Watch a replacement for Police Officers?

Residents pay their taxes, why should they patrol?

It is too dangerous to expect residents to patrol their own streets.

How does Street Watch reduce Anti-Social Behaviour?

I am concerned that Street Watch is a vigilante group

Are Street Watch members insured?

Do residents have the skills to patrol their own streets?

How can Street Watch work in partnership with Neighbourhood Watch?

What training do Street Watch members receive?

How is Street Watch different from most traditional ‘Watch’ based initiatives?

Are Street Watch members vetted?


Is Street Watch a replacement for Police Officers?

Street Watch is not about policing or about replacing police officers. The scheme is about communities re-connecting with the traditional values of good citizenship and community cohesion that have been undermined through a disproportionate fear of crime. Street Watch empowers communities to promote and set their own standards and for residents to reclaim their open spaces and to provide visible reassurance to others.

We would all welcome more officers patrolling our streets. However, the reality is that this will not happen. To engage in an honest debate with residents and provide options to enter into a new style of partnership with us is a positive approach. Unrealistic expectations and endless debates concerning police officer numbers fails to address immediate community issues and serves only to deteriorate public confidence and increases fear.

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Residents pay their taxes, why should they patrol?

Any notion that residents pay their taxes and in doing so can absolve themselves of all community responsibility undermines a sense of community cohesion. Community cohesion requires the active engagement by residents to stand up for themselves and make a difference. Street Watch provides this opportunity and is about bringing back confidence and lost values to our neighbourhoods.

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It is too dangerous to expect residents to patrol their own streets.

Very few things in life are risk free and patrolling your streets carries an element of risk. Street Watch however minimises any risks through having regulated policies, guidance, operating procedures and risk assessments.

The overriding principle of Street Watch is that it is about engagement and not confrontation. Some people have expressed beliefs that residents would not be able to engage with the more difficult elements within our communities. However, Street Watch members have shown that this can be achieved through appropriate dialogue where the purpose is to build bridges and to be inclusive towards young people with increased understanding on both sides.

Street Watch members are adults who understand that they are responsible for their own actions and who have a balanced view of any potential risks. They are willing through personal choice to undertake patrols.

In the UK, 2 million people a year attend hospital with sports related injuries. However, society accepts that taking part in sports is positive for overall health and we accept risks to ourselves and our children. Patrolling our streets is all about maintaining the health of communities and in the same way, risks should be rationalised and reduced.

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How does Street Watch reduce Anti-Social Behaviour?

Anti-social behaviour takes hold in areas where communities have lost control of their open spaces, where residents tend to have a disproportionate fear of crime and an overreliance on police. Street Watch encourages residents to be more visible on their streets and to become empowered to take back ownership of their open spaces and to set standards for others.

The concept of Street Watch aims to unite communities whilst being supported by Police. The persistent nature of the patrols means that those who wish to undermine our communities become disempowered. They no longer have the freedom to behave as they like and quickly decide to moderate their behaviour. The anti-social behaviour in that area stops.

The police cannot solve all our community issues on their own and it is unreasonable to expect that they can. We can all do our bit to empower ourselves, our communities and to bring about sustainable long term benefits.

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I am concerned that Street Watch is a vigilante group

Nothing is further from the truth. Street Watch is non confrontational and every member has the responsibility to act within the law and has personal accountability for their own actions.

Current members come from a wide background. The scheme is about good citizenship and taking ownership of your own community. The Street Watch Scheme is fully supported by Bedfordshire Police and other participating police forces.

Unlike many other voluntary schemes, Street Watch members are police checked.

The Street Watch badge carries the logo of participating police forces. The police would not support vigilante group.

Street Watch is all about community minded people serving their community through positive citizenship.

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Are Street Watch members insured?

There is both public liability and personal accident / injury insurance covering Street Watch members.

Street Watch urges the Town and Parish Councils to take an active part in the running and management of local schemes and in some places they actually provide or contribute to the insurance cover.

Street Watch members are members of the public walking their streets just like any other member of the public. Like any person, Street Watch members are responsible for their own actions to be lawful, reasonable, proportionate and justified.

Street Watch is run by the community for the community. Street Watch members have no powers other than what is stated in law for any citizen. Street Watch is about promoting the concept of good citizenship. There is no requirement or expectation for individuals to take risks or engage in any exceptional activity. Street Watch members make their own judgements in acting as good citizens. Like any member of the public, Street Watch members have the personal accountability to observe, report or engage in a manner that is lawful and appropriate.

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Do residents have the skills to patrol their own streets?

There needs to be increased trust and confidence shown by authorities towards members of the public. Many Street Watch members have expressed views that they don’t want to be ‘treated like children’.

Street Watch is ONLY about good citizenship. Members are typically aged between 35 – 75 years of age and carry a wealth of experience from employment, family, life experience and from knowing their communities. Within a regulated scheme members of the community should be supported to engage in patrolling their own neighbourhoods as good citizens.

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How can Street Watch work in partnership with Neighbourhood Watch?

Street Watch is an entirely independent but complementary organisation to Neighbourhood Watch. There is the potential for a positive tripartite relationship to be formed between Police, Street Watch and Neighbourhood Watch.

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What training do Street Watch members receive?

Street Watch is about good community citizenship. At the formation of new schemes, members are given a presentation regarding the scheme. It is ensured that members understand their own responsibilities, the guidance and risk assessments. Members sign a document to confirm their understanding. At a second ‘launch’ meeting, the guidance, codes of conduct and potential scenarios are then discussed in an open forum.

On first patrols, members patrol with police support or with experienced members. The guidance is to patrol during the day and to engage in activity such as leaflet drops. As experience and confidence grows, members then patrol at later times.

Street Watch supports the continued development of members. A standing agenda at every meeting is to discuss patrol experiences and how to deal with scenarios. The emphasis is always on non confrontation.

Street Watch is not about policing. It is about drawing on the wealth of experiences and skills held by residents and applying good citizenship.

Development schemes can be adapted to the different environments and local issues. Street Watch in more demanding areas is likely to need a higher input than rural areas where members may already be very familiar with their communities.

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How is Street Watch different from most traditional ‘Watch’ based initiatives?

Many existing initiatives are based on information exchange between the police and community and the encouragement of crime reporting and prevention.

Street Watch takes this a number of steps further. It encourages residents to take ownership and accountability in working in partnership to resolve their own local issues, for communities to provide their own additional visibility and reassurance and where appropriate, to be more proactive in appropriately challenging behaviour and engaging with other members of the community.

Street Watch is about empowerment and ‘total community engagement.’ Street Watch members develop their own information sharing protocols and are intelligence led in directing their own community resources to help resolve localised community problems.

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Are Street Watch members vetted?

Yes, Street Watch members are police checked at the same level as police volunteers. Street Watch members do not work with children or young people and have no responsibility for them. Street Watch members may engage and talk to young people as would be expected in any community that promotes good citizenship and a strong sense of community cohesion.