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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 15:02 GMT
Neighbourhood Watch role 'boost'
High Wycombe Neighbourhood Watch
Schemes are being asked to take a more active role in fighting crime
A document suggesting Neighbourhood Watch members take a more active role in fighting crime has been sent to chief constables.

The Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) says forces should tap into the "unused energy and enthusiasm" of such community groups.

Volunteers could patrol crime-hit areas or check tax discs on parked cars.

ACPO's lead on Neighbourhood Watch, Chief Constable Frank Whiteley, said it was not "policing on the cheap".

He said the intention was to use Neighbourhood Watch members to supplement the police, not to replace them.

"[It is] an opportunity for the police service to work even more closely with Neighbourhood Watch schemes and improve the cooperation and information sharing between the police and Watch members."

In the memo the Hertfordshire Chief Constable highlighted a number of pilot projects already taking place.

'BOOSTED' WATCH PILOTS
Bedfordshire Covert groups meet to share information with the police
Oxmoor and Hartford, Cambridgeshire Team provide information about untaxed parked cars
Stockton, Cleveland Members logged activities at the house of a known drug dealer, as a result the dealer was moved out
Cumbria Send out letters to convicted criminals warning them not to trespass on private property
Highdown, Sussex Residents are on standby to provide search teams for missing people

In Cumbria, members send out letters to known criminals telling them that they are not welcome at participating premises and warning them that any breach of the instruction could lead to civil or criminal action against them.

Policing review

In Highdown, Cambridgeshire, local watch teams worked with bailiffs enforcement teams, Trading Standards and vehicle licensing agencies to provide information about untaxed vehicles in the area.

Chief Constable Whiteley said it would improve the policing presence, help to identify community concerns and allow local input in solving issues.

A Home Office spokeswoman said she was aware of the document.

"Neighbourhood policing is about police officers getting closer to their communities and working with local people to prevent and tackle crime in their area."

An official report by the Home Office's adviser on policing, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, which was published last Thursday, said the number of police officers in England and Wales is unsustainable and will have to fall.

Neighbourhood watch has been running since 1982 and there are an estimated 120,000 schemes in England and Wales.

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