Neighbourhood Watch

Dorset Watch programs are community-based initiatives that aim to prevent crime and enhance overall safety in residential areas.

While they may not directly stop all criminal activity, they can be effective in deterring and reducing crime in several ways:

Increased Awareness:

Watches encourages residents to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings. This heightened awareness can lead to the timely reporting of suspicious activities to Dorset Police, which can prevent crimes before they happen.

Crime Deterrence:

Criminals are less likely to commit crimes in neighbourhoods where they know residents are actively watching and reporting suspicious behaviour. The presence of signs can act as a deterrent.


Watch groups facilitate communication between residents and Dorset Police. This can help police respond more effectively to incidents and concerns within the community.


Watch programs often provide educational resources and training to residents on topics such as home security, personal safety, and crime prevention. This empowers residents to take proactive measures to protect themselves and their property.

Building Community Cohesion:

These programs foster a sense of community and neighbourliness. When residents know and trust their neighbours, they are more likely to look out for each other, which can deter criminals who prefer to operate in areas where they are less likely to be noticed.

Quick Response:

With members of the community actively watching and reporting, Dorset Police can respond more quickly to suspicious activities or emergencies, potentially preventing crimes in progress.

Problem Solving:

Watch groups often work with Dorset Police to identify recurring crime patterns and develop strategies to address them. This collaborative problem-solving can lead to long-term crime reduction.

Target Hardening:

Watch programs can help residents identify weaknesses in their community’s security and take steps to improve them. This might involve implementing better lighting, reinforcing locks, bolts, alarms or securing windows.

Information Sharing:

Members of Watch groups through the Association of Dorset Watches (ADW) and Dorset Alert, can share information and resources related to security measures, crime trends, and community safety. This exchange of information can help residents stay informed and take appropriate precautions.

DORSET Watches – Tackling crime

For a crime to take place there needs to be three things that come together.

  • TARGET – the item to be stolen/attacked
  • OPPORTUNITY – the circumstances under which crime occurs
  • OFFENDER – Either a deliberate opportunist or a casual opportunist

To prevent a crime all you need to do is…..


This section will help watches to focus and strategically prevent crime in their communities:


Build a community profile – Identifying the level of crime:

The following are links to online resources that will help watch coordinators to build up a profile of their area and identify the crime generators:

Map of the UK

What’s happening in your area?

Find out which local policing team and force covers a location in England, Northern Ireland or Wales. 

Your area | (

Picture of the ONS website

Community Profile

Our main responsibilities are collecting, analysing and disseminating statistics about the UK’s economy, society and population.

Home – Office for National Statistics (

Crime figures website

National and Local Crime Figures

Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2023
Crime against households and people aged 16 and over using data from police recorded crime and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

Crime in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics (

Crime survey website

Crime and justice

Crime levels and trends based primarily on the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime data.

Crime and justice – Office for National Statistics (

census website

How the population changed in Dorset: Census 2021

The population of England and Wales has increased by more than 3.5 million in the 10 years leading up to Census 2021. Using the first results from this census, we look at which places have seen the biggest increases and decreases, which areas had the largest growth in different age groups, and how local authority areas like Dorset compare with others.

Dorset population change, Census 2021 – ONS


The Environment – the crime generators.

The following provides links and information about changing the environment to reduce the risk of crime. These measure can provide long term risk reduction.

The defensible space theory of architect and city planner Oscar Newman

Encompasses ideas about crime prevention and neighbourhood safety. Newman argues that architectural and environmental design plays a crucial part in increasing or reducing criminality

Defensible space theory – Wikipedia

The broken windows theory

States that visible signs of crime, anti-social behaviour and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.

The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, loitering, public drinking, Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness.

Broken windows theory – Wikipedia

safer place image

Safer places: the planning system and crime prevention

This guide will be of interest to anyone involved in the planning and design of new development. Old document but still has some valid pointers in environmental design to reduce crime

Safer Places (

Interventional for crime prevention

Interventions for situational crime prevention

The majority of these relate to burglary offences, although some interventions are relevant to more than one crime type. No relevant interventions have been identified for theft from the person alone, although some exist for this crime type in addition to other neighbourhood crimes. You can download the information from the link below:


The opportunities – removing them

There are a number of ways you can reduce the opportunity for people to commit crime and Anti Social Behaviour in your community in this section we will explore:

  • Target hardening
  • Intervention
  • Increasing witness potential
  • Remapping the community


The culpable offender

There are two types of offender.

  • Deliberate opportunistic – a person who actively and deliberately goes out with the intention of committing crime or Anti Social Behaviour.
  • Casual opportunistic – a person who has no intention of committing crime or Anti Social Behaviour until the opportunity to do so is presented in front of them or are led to carry out activities due to peer pressure.