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Alldredge (2009) adds that Neighborhood Watch is funded and supported by the National Sheriffs' Association, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and a number of non-governmental organizations. Additionally, most Neighborhood Watch groups are formed in suburban middle class neighborhoods, with most of the activity being carried out within individual police and sheriff departments and groups of houses within a single neighborhood block.

Fleming (2005) outlines several benefits of Neighborhood Watch groups:

The willingness of the community to actively watch and report anything suspicious increases the chance of an offender being caught. This scrutiny defers potential offenders.

The distribution of Neighborhood Watch schemes across diverse geographical areas allows for homogeneous membership levels.

As the 'eyes and ears' of the police, communities' levels of crime reporting and intelligence provided to the police have increased. This information leads to more arrests and convictions.

Police share information with citizens, such as crime statistics and crime education material, with a view to reducing crime and victimization.

Neighborhood Watch reduces crime through decreasing opportunities to offend by creating signs of occupancy, property marking, security surveys and greater security awareness.

Active Neighborhood Watch schemes reduce fear of crime.

Residents and communities are generally willing to participate in Neighborhood Watch schemes.

Formal meetings strengthen neighborhood dynamics.

Neighborhood Watch activity consolidates a strong and meaningful partnership between law enforcement officers and the community (p. 3).

Bennett et al. (2006) report that Neighborhood Watch activities reduced crime by about 16%. They suggest the following possible reasons for the effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch. First of all is the most obvious, when citizens look out for and report suspicious activity to the police, crime is reduced. Bennett et al. (2006) explain that the watching and reporting of suspicious activity defer offenders if they are aware of the likelihood of local residents reporting suspicious behavior and if they perceive this as increasing their risks of being caught. Secondly, Bennett et al. (2006) assert that Neighborhood Watch reduces crime through reducing opportunities for crime. This is achieved through activities which create an illusion of occupancy such as removing newspapers from neighbors' homes when they are away, mowing lawns, and filling up trash cans. The third way that Neighborhood Watch reduces crime, according to Bennett et al. (2006), is through various mechanisms of social control. These activities enhance social cohesion and increase the ability of communities to control crime. An additional way in which Neighborhood Watch reduces crime is through enhancing police detection. Bennett et al. (2006) explain that Neighborhood Watch programs increase the flow of information from the public to the police, which lead to a greater number of arrests and convictions, and reduce crime through the incapacitation of local offenders. Finally, Bennett et al. (2006) suggest that strategies such as property marking and home security surveys also reduce crime by making the targets of crime less attractive to potential criminals.

Fleming (2005) concludes that "there has been widespread recognition that no single agency, and certainly not the police, commands the resources necessary to control crime" (p. 4). Effective crime control requires collaboration between police, institutions outside law support, and the public. Fleming (2005) therefore suggests that a well-organized, focused, and effective Neighborhood Watch group, whose goals included improving household and personal security, enhancing the relationship between police and the community, and expanding the community's involvement in safety and crime prevention, could make a difference in reducing crime.

References:

Alldredge, P. (2009). The Contradictions of Neighborhood Watch: The Growth and Success of a Failed Crime Prevention Strategy. Conference Papers -- American Sociological Association, 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Bennett, T., Holloway, K., & Farrington, D. (2006). Does neighborhood watch reduce crime? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2(4), 437-458. doi:10.1007/s11292-006-9018-5

Brogden, M.M. (1999). CHAPTER 10: Community Policing as Cherry Pie. In, Policing Across the World (pp. 167-186). Taylor & Francis Ltd. / Books. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

U.S. Department of Justice. (2011). Community policing.…