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Crime Prevention Research Review No. 3: Does Neighborhood Watch Reduce Crime?

NCJ Number
Katy Holloway; Trevor Bennett; David P. Farrington
Date Published
April 2008
46 pages
A summary of findings and policy implications is presented of a research review examining whether Neighborhood Watch is effective in reducing crime.
The strongest finding of this review relates to the mean effect size estimate produced by the meta-analysis. This indicated that, across all eligible studies combined, Neighborhood Watch was associated with a reduction in crime. The results of previous systematic reviews of Neighborhood Watch are divided according to the conclusions drawn. Implications of these results are presented in relation to research and policy. Neighborhood Watch is often implemented as part of a comprehensive package sometimes referred to as the “big three” that includes Neighborhood Watch, property-marking, and home security surveys. The funding of Neighborhood Watch programs is nearly always a joint venture between the local police departments and the program members through their fundraising activities. The most frequently suggested mechanism by which Neighborhood Watch is supposed to reduce crime is by residents looking out for and reporting suspicious activities to the police. However, Neighborhood Watch might also lead to a reduction in crime by reducing the opportunities for crime, through the various mechanisms of social control, and by enhancing police detection through increased flow of useful information from the public to the police. To investigate whether Neighborhood Watch does in fact reduce crime, a systematic review of the literature was conducted. Systematic reviews are rigorous, transparent, and replicable summaries of the research literature that involve careful documentation of each stage of the search process. References