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Neighbourhood watch can reduce crime

Bennett T L, Farrington D & Holloway K.  The effectiveness of neighborhood watch  Security Journal. 2009; 22.2: 143-155.

Review question

      What is the effectiveness of neighbourhood watch in reducing crime?


      Neighbourhood watch originated from a movement to promote citizen’s involvement in the prevention of crime in the United States. It is now one of the most common organized crime prevention activities.

      By observing and reporting suspicious activities, residents aim to reduce crime and improve the safety of their neighbourhoods. In addition, neighbourhood watch may promote greater social cohesion and community control.

      The existing literature about the effectiveness of neighbourhood watch is fairly inconclusive. To investigate this further, this review aims to investigate the effectiveness of neighbourhood watch programs in preventing crime more thoroughly.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published and unpublished was conducted. Studies that focused on neighbourhood watch, safety, crime prevention and community were included in the review.

      A total of 1,595 studies were identified in searches, and 19 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

      This review was funded by The Campbell Collaboration and the University of Glamorgan, United Kingdom.

What the researchers found

      In this review, effectiveness was determined by calculating the relative percentage change of the experimental and comparison area over time.

      The majority of included studies found that neighbourhood crime was associated with a reduction in crime based on relative percentage change.

      The meta-analysis found that neighbourhood watch correlates with a relative reduction in crime between 16 and 26 percent.


      In conclusion, the findings of the review supported that neighbourhood watch is effective in reducing crime.

      Neighbourhood watch showed to increase surveillance and enhance informal social control.


Advanced statistical methods contrasting and combining results from different studies.

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