A potted history of Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby
The original broad aim of Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) was to make our neighbourhoods safer by utilising the eyes and ears of community members in the awareness of crime and hence promoting closer cooperation between members of the public and the local police. The Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby areas are fortunate to have had local NHW groups virtually since the Australian inception of NHW.
Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) was started by the police across New South Wales in 1984. The individual groups were set up and managed by aligning with the NSW Police commands – ours is ‘Ku-ring-gai Police Area Command (PAC)’, based at Hornsby police station. Originally there were nearly a hundred NHW groups in the Ku-ring-gai PAC, under the wing of the police Crime Prevention Officer. Each group was approximately 1000 houses.
An advantage of the NHW concept is that individual groups are small and local. Hence, they support local neighbourhoods. The initial focus of the groups was protection of both private and commercial property. Over time, the role has evolved and expanded to also include new crimes, such as identy theft, fraud scams and cybercrimes.
Ku-ring-gai & hornsby arrives
The groups slowly dwindled, until in 2011, representatives from the remaining groups across our command met for the first time. There was a realisation that we would be better-off if all the volunteers worked together.
So a new informal group was formed under the name ‘NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby’. Quarterly meetings were established, and the team forged ahead with two strategies to promote and revitalise NHW in our command:
- To re-engage with residents through ‘crime prevention stalls’ at community events; and
- To utilise the internet and new online technologies that were now available to everyone.
In 2011, the introduction of ‘eyewatch’ on Facebook by the NSW Police Force was seen as a possible rejuvenation program, and as an adjunct to the original NHW program. The local police Facebook page was deemed successful, however, a Facebook ‘Closed Groups’ idea was never adopted by our local police. NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby joined Facebook, creating their unique page: Neighbourhood Watch in Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby page and their community group: Neighbourhood Watch Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby group. From that point on, NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby has steadily grown to include NHW Facebook pages for many of the suburbs across the command.
The public was slow to accept Facebook, so an alternative weekly eNewsletter was developed by NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby to collate a digest of all the available information and take Facebook to the public. This email gives residents access to the more up-to-date posts being shared on Facebook by our local police, as well as other pertinent information that our NHW volunteers hunt out. Volunteers trawl numerous posts from organisations, media outlets and not-for-profits, giving Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby residents for the first time, a complete view of crime and crime prevention in their area. This online strategy was further expanded to include the development of this website and our Twitter account.
Each NHW group in the area operates autonomously. A printed newsletter and regular NHW meetings still continue as the main NHW presence in some suburbs.
In 2006 Neighbourhood Watch Australasia (NHWA) re-launched. In 2014 NHWA introduced a Community Funding program, to promote the NHW brand. These grants were only available to incorporated groups, or representatives of the Police. Our Volunteer in Policing (VIP) was able to apply on behalf of NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby and source some useful resources for use at community events. The Gordon Area 24/12 NHW bank account is utilised for NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby monies.
In 2017, a ‘Black Belt in Thinking’ comprehensive review of NHW identified all the problems currently recognised by NHW and suggested several potential new strategies. One concern was residents’ access to crime prevention advice. Victims of crime were often heard to say, “I wish I had known that before I was …” or “Where can I find that information?”
And so NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby applied for NHWA Community Funding in 2017 to help launch an innovative, free and easy-to-use online service to connect the community with all things crime and crime prevention – The WatchOut! project.
Please select the WATCHOUT! page for more information.
Around this time, we also launched a newly-vamped NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby website.
In 2017 we were asked by our Commander to remove ‘Kuring Gai Local Area Command (LAC)’ from all our materials, in order to remove any association implied between the police and NHW. The same year ‘LAC’ was renamed to ‘PAC’ (Police Area Command) and Ku-ring-gai was changed to match the council spelling. Unfortunately, on 05 April 2019, with no warning, the NSW Police revoked the insurance cover for NHW volunteers (unless the volunteers were personally invited to a police-organised activity).
NHW NSW arrives
A new entity Neighbourhood Watch NSW (NHW NSW) was established as a necessary umbrella organisation. Amongst other responsibilities, NHW NSW provides insurance for those NHW groups registered with them, as well as holding authorisation from NHW Victoria for the use of the 4-heads NHW logo (registered by NHW Victoria).
From February 2020 through July 2022 Neighbourhood Watch paused for Covid.
WatchOut.org.au was such a success that on 14 May 2021 it was adopted by NHW NSW, rebranded and re-worked to change it from a resource intended for only Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby residents, to become a resource for residents across all of NSW.
In 2021, due to a change in Australian legislation regarding domain names, our NHW website had to be renamed au-NHWKuringgaiHornsby.org .
In September 2021 Ku-ring-gai PAC Intel stopped sharing crime stats with NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby. We were pointed to the government’s Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) website which has a ‘Crime Tool’ to track crime by Local Government Area (LGA). It usually runs 6 months behind.
2022 has been the year that NHW Ku-ring-gai & Hornsby has tried to adopt the NHW Vic Branding Guidelines that go with the use of the 4-head NHW logo and consequently is in the process of reformatting all of the documentation to comply. And post-Covid, we are back in the community! Currently we are pursuing a new project to assist residents painting their house number on the kerb.
Please select our BORROW page to find out more.