Somethings Strange, In Your Neighbourhood. Who ya gonna call?

Submitted by connor@tamarack... on August 18, 2017 - 10:00am

This infamous Neighbourhood sign can be seen in communities with a Neighbourhood watch. Growing up, my next-door neighbour had a Neighbourhood watch sign in their front porch. I don’t believe that there ever was Neighbourhood watch, but the sign probably acted as a deterrence. 

The idea is that if the community collaboratively surveillances the area and monitors for suspicious or criminal activity, then crime rates in the area will decrease. It works by neighbours keeping watch on the streets, cars going by, people walking, etc. If something suspicious is spotted, then a member of the community will either report it to the head of the watch or report it to the police. 

It’s similiar to Panopticism, a social theory developed by Michel Foucault. The "panopticon" refers to an experimental laboratory of power in which behaviour could be altered, and Foucault viewed the panopticon as a symbol of the disciplinary society of surveillance. I’ll provide an example: A panopticon prison, is where every jail cell can be seen from one central point (a tower), but the prisoners don’t know if there is a guard watching them or not. This reinforces the perception that there is probably a guard watching and this makes the prisoner behave the way they should. A neighbourhood watch is a similar concept. The sign in the community signifies that a house within the neighborhood could be watching. This will deter criminals from breaking into to the neighbourhood (altering their intended behavior).

While a meta-analysis concluded that they only deter crime rates in the area by 16%, it can create a perception of safety and inclusion. Both these perceptions are associated with better self-reported physical and mental health, while social exclusion denies us the opportunity for full economic and social participation in society.

Deterrence of criminal activities, or not, the concept of a neighbourhood watch is beneficial. It creates open lanes of communication between neighbors and provides social capital. It also creates an environment where people are caring for each other. Watching each other houses while the other is on vacation can now turn into bring chicken noodle soup to each other when they are sick.

Below are a few resources to begin a Neighbourhood Watch:

Thanks for Reading!