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Implementing Business Watch: Problems and Solutions

NCJ Number
Kate Charlton; Natalie Taylor
Date Published
February 2003
6 pages
This document outlines the results of a study evaluating the processes of a Business Watch program in 2002.
Business Watch is a community scheme aimed at preventing crime against businesses through surveillance and other activities. Although Business Watch originally sprang from the Neighborhood Watch concept of watching the local area, Business Watch programs involve wider crime prevention activities. Business Watch schemes may include a system of alerting fellow businesses or the relevant authorities to suspicious or potentially criminal activity in the area. A Business Watch scheme may also include improving the level of business operators’ crime and security knowledge. Success depends heavily on the combined efforts, commitment, and cooperation of all members. Little research has been published about Business Watch, resulting in a gap in the literature both in describing the programs and in evaluating them. A questionnaire was sent to 256 business proprietors. There was a response rate of 42 percent. This evaluation investigated the number of businesses that were aware of the program’s existence; how many businesses were actively involved; the reasons for involvement; and whether business proprietors perceived the program to be effective. Results show that 30 percent of the sample were unaware that a Business Watch program was in place. Only about two-thirds of the members that were aware of the program knew about each of the program components. Seventy-six percent of non-involved respondents indicated that they lacked the time to participate. The majority of respondents were unable to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the program. While a considerable number of members that were aware of the program indicated a willingness to participate in a similar program in the future (53 percent), 28 percent were unsure and 7 percent unwilling. The problems experienced in the implementation of a Business Watch program include: (1) the competitive nature of business proprietors; (2) being unaware of the program due to insufficient publicity; and (3) the program design having unrealistic expectations for members. Further evaluative studies should be conducted. 2 figures, 2 tables, 15 references