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12 Apr 2012
police officer in Cheshire has described Home Watch as "a
major contributor to the fight against crime"
The first Home Watch in Britain was launched just thirty
years ago in the Cheshire village of Mollington when local
people were concerned about a spate of burglaries.
Cheshire′s Assistant Chief Constable Janette McCormick says,
McCormick, Cheshire Constabulary
From the success of that first scheme in an
area with a total population of nine hundred, the Home Watch
movement spread across Britain. It has had a real
impact on preventing crime and catching criminals.
Thirty years on, we can appreciate the value of
Home Watch. It has adapted to a changing world and adopted new
technology but, at the core, it is still about people making a
constructive effort to protect their local community.
Thirty years ago, Harold Cooper, Chairman of the Mollington
Residents Association, approached Chester Crime Prevention Office
about the burglaries. Inspector Grahame Andrews (retired) was then
the Crime Prevention Sergeant. He had been passed American
Neighbourhood Watch papers by the then Chief Constable, George
Mollington readily took on the concept of a
similar scheme but called it ′Home Watch′. After the launch in
March 1983, the burglaries stopped and representatives from thirty
four police forces came to Cheshire to look at the operation of
Grahame Andrews says,
- Grahame Andrews
We made it clear that it did not involve
snooping on your neighbours and it was certainly not about
creating a vigilante outfit.
The guidelines set up back then are just as important now;
improving the security of your home, security marking property and
knowing who to contact if something suspicious is seen. The fact
that the approach was ‘from the bottom up′, rather than ‘from the
top down′ was a real reason for its success. Initially Mollington
did not want any window stickers or street signs but later on
groups could see the advantage of deterring burglars by advertising
Leaflets were produced and the local community spirit was
strengthened by a series of meetings. The project was promoted at
the Cheshire County Show that year.
One of the big challenges was how to
communicate the latest information to the Watch
members. In 1992 Inspector Andrews, then serving at Crewe, utilised
the latest available technology − the Oracle teletext system on
ITV. When Home watch started in Crewe there were eight pages on
Oracle dedicated to Crewe for displaying recent crime, people
arrested, stolen vehicles and major crimes. Grahame Andrews says
the local people found this worked well.
Today, email provides the ideal route for
rolling out information. Whether it is alerting people about a
pattern of crime in a particular area or locating a stolen vehicle,
the details can be sent to hundreds of people in seconds.
- Grahame Andrews
Although the technology has advanced, the basic
principles of Home Watch from when it started back in 1982
are still relevant to the scheme now. It is based
on people being good neighbours in a local
Share your stories
Cheshire Police would like to hear people’s interesting stories
of how Home Watch has helped fight crime in their area and the
positive effect it has had on the local community. Please send your
stories to the Community Engagement Manager, Jenny Ford on email@example.com