Neighborhood – Bennett (1990)

Study Reference:

Bennett, T. (1990). Evaluating neighborhood watch. Basingstoke, UK: Gower.

Location in the Matrix and Methodological Rigor:

Neighborhoods; General; Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The study examined the impact of neighborhood watch (NW) on crime in London. The comprehensive NW package involved (1) residents looking out for suspicious activities and reporting them to the police; (2) property marking; and (3) home security surveys. Monthly newsletters were produced, and monthly meetings were held among police officers, civilian officers, and interested residents to report crime in local areas and discuss actions taken to improve the NW scheme.

How was the intervention evaluated?

Two areas in London (Acton and Wimbledon) were selected as the experimental sites; a randomly chosen area with similar social composition and distance from the center of London as Wimbledon served as the control; and one site adjunct to the Wimbledon with similar social and geographic structure was selected as the displacement area. Surveys were conducted on a representative of every household in these areas before and after the program to measure victimization (both property and person). Changes in police-reported crime were also compared among these four sites.

What were the key findings?

NW did not reduce victimization, based on both the police data and the resident data, either in the short-term or in the long run. The probability of being victimized was no different for NW participants (those who considered themselves as participants in any form) than for non-participants.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The program may have been ineffective in reducing crime because there was not enough attention to efforts to increase informal social control. Additionally, implementation is crucial, as this NW program did not include as many meetings as originally intended and did not devote sufficient resources to property marking and home security surveys.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?