After initially starting in the United States of America in 1964, in response to the murder of Kitty Genovese outside of her apartment of New York, the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme was first implemented in the UK in 1982, in Cheshire.
From then on, police forces across the country began establishing these new neighbour networks, which have gone from strength to strength since.
In 1992, the CID at Thorpe Wood Police Station took the lead for Peterborough with Detective Sgt Graham Boon tasked to set Neighbourhood Watch rolling across all of the Peterborough area. The very first local Neighbourhood Watch was set up in New England.
Retired Detective Sergeant Boon said: “It was a busy time when I started with the Watch scheme all those years ago, all our meetings were full.
“It still applies today after 40 years, recent times have shown how knowing your neighbours is a good thing, good for you and good for the neighbourhood.”
Peterborough people took Neighbourhood Watch seriously and established hundreds of watch groups across many parts of the Peterborough area.
By 1992, the challenge for the police was helping to run so many groups. This led to the late Chief Inspector Alan Daff setting up the first Neighbourhood Watch Association, aimed at mobilizing senior Watch Street coordinators to take an active role in managing the popular scheme.
The Association was born on July 1992 and has continued in its role ever since much to the benefit of communities across the Peterborough area.
Neighbourhood Watch was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award in 2012. The network has the largest number of volunteers across the UK, over 2.4 million.
Currently, the Peterborough Association’s Action Group meet with the police every six weeks to discuss crime affecting local communities, work on joint preventative initiatives, identify any successes and highlight any recent concerns from the different communities. The group consists of fifteen street coordinators from across Peterborough.
The Peterborough area currently has 274 Neighbourhood watches each with its own street coordinator. On average, each watch will have 20 household members, making the estimated membership 5480. There are also some whole villages registered as a neighbourhood village watch. There are fourteen area coordinators and 12 deputy coordinators.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “Neighbourhood Watch is still as relevant today as it was 40 years ago – members are at the heart of our communities and know what happens in each neighbourhood, which is a vital support to policing across the county.
“We do not underestimate the value in having such close links with our local schemes which provides a way for people to pass information on to us and enables us to feedback on what we are doing to tackle issues of most concern.
“There have been many occasions where we have called upon our co-ordinators to help us deliver important messaging, share crime alerts, and request information.
“I am hugely grateful for the continued support from everyone involved with Neighbourhood Watch in ensuring it continues to thrive in Cambridgeshire.”
Peterborough’s Neighbourhood Watch Ambassador and Bretton Ward Councillor Chris Burbage added: “2022 sees a milestone year for Neighbourhood Watch in the UK as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.
“Here in Peterborough, we also celebrate our 30th year of our very own Association for members. Over those years we have gone from strength to strength, promoting neighbourly values, looking after one another and of course working to make our communities safer and more resilient to crime.”
Alan Paul the Association chair said: “Peterborough has benefitted with a long tradition of having active neighbourhood watches. It works, it makes so much sense and the results speak for themselves.”
Not all areas of the city and villages have their own Watch groups, everyone from all our communities are welcome to join. Simply register at www.ourwatch.org.uk/join.
Local help and advice are available from the Action Group - the Peterborough Neighbourhood Watch line is 0 74 74 002 392 or by emailing your local team on [email protected]