Neighbourhood Watch SA is South Australia Police’s largest community crime prevention program delivered in partnership with the Neighbourhood Watch Volunteers Association of SA Inc.
Neighbourhood Watch provides South Australians with a way to raise awareness about safety and security in their communities. By bringing neighbours and police together we can help solve local issues and create connected communities where crime is less likely to occur.
The guiding principles of Neighbourhood Watch are:
There are Neighbourhood Watch groups all across the state and each group is led by local residents. By tackling issues at the grassroots level Neighbourhood Watch groups can focus on the interests and needs of their local community.
The Neighbourhood Watch program is overseen by SAPOL’s Community Engagement Section via the Neighbourhood Watch State Coordinator, Sergeant Phil Gurr, and his team of SAPOL employees.
Phil is the President of the Board and is also the Area Coordinator of the Hope Valley/Highbury Neighbourhood Watch Area #222.
Shiralee is the Vice President of the Board for the Metropolitan Area and is also the Area Coordinator of the Para Hills Neighbourhood Watch Area #504.
Ben is the Vice President of the Board for Country Areas and is also the Area Coordinator of the Whyalla Neighbourhood Watch Area #277.
Lynn is the Secretary of the Board and is also the Area Coordinator of the O’Sullivan Beach Neighbourhood Watch Area #75.
George is the Treasurer of the Board and is also the Area Coordinator of the Woodcroft Neighbourhood Watch Area #414.
Pat is a member of the Board and is also the Area Coordinator of the Goolwa Neighbourhood Watch Area #272.
James is an external member of the Board and in his professional career is a solicitor for the Attorney-General’s Department.
Robin is an external member of the Board and in his professional career is a University lecturer and professor of Business and Marketing.
Members are the local people in each community who volunteer their time to participate in the Neighbourhood Watch program. They could be a Neighbourhood Watch supporter or a volunteer registered under the Police Volunteer Program.
Each Neighbourhood Watch Area has a number of office-bearers who contribute to the running of the group. These positions may include the Area Coordinator, Secretary, Treasurer and Newsletter Editor.
Area Coordinators attend regular meetings with other Area Coordinators in their local District or LSA. The aim of these meetings is to share information and strategies between different groups in the same geographical area.
State Councillors are elected by Area Coordinators from their District or LSA to represent them at State Council meetings.
State Council meetings take place quarterly and are a way of communicating information from the Board of Management to local Neighbourhood Watch Areas, and for State Councillors to raise local issues or seek information or advice from the Board.
The Board of Management consists of State Councillors and two external Board members who are elected to represent Neighbourhood Watch SA at the highest level.
The Board meets monthly with the Neighbourhood Watch State Coordinator and other representatives from SAPOL to share information, problem solve issues and develop strategic plans for the future.
Neighbourhood Watch began in South Australia as a crime prevention initiative on 1 May 1985 with the launch of the pilot Flinders Park Neighbourhood Watch area.
It wasn’t long before community pressure grew to expand Neighbourhood Watch into other suburbs and towns. Flinders Park set a solid foundation for the future of the program:
Just over a year later, on 5 May 1986, Salisbury North Neighbourhood Watch area began operating, with many more areas starting up over the next few years.
The success of the Neighbourhood Watch program was on show at the Neighbourhood Watch seminar held at the Fort Largs Police Academy on 13 August 1988. The seminar was attended by 142 delegates with 3,200 Neighbourhood Watch volunteers and their families being treated to displays from STAR Force, the Dog Squad, emergency services and music from the Band of the South Australia Police.
The concept of ‘Watch’ was expanded beyond the traditional Neighbourhood Watch in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the launch of:
At the 10th birthday celebrations of Flinders Park Neighbourhood Watch area in 1995 the Deputy Commissioner Pat Hurley stated that in addition to Flinders Park ‘another 473 such programmes have been established’ and that the program’s aim is ‘to establish another 200 areas by the end of 1996’.
On 15 March 1997 the first Neighbourhood Watch SA state conference was held. The conference theme was ‘Watching into the future’. More than 500 volunteers attended and heard speeches from Judge Andrew Wilson, Police Commissioner Mal Hyde and criminologist Dr John Tomaino.
The years 2000 to 2005 saw some dramatic changes to the Neighbourhood Watch SA program. With the Focus 21 Review of Neighbourhood Watch and the Focus 21 Review of Community-based Policing, a proactive, problem-solving approach to crime reduction was slowly blended with the traditional approaches of Neighbourhood Watch. Key to this new approach was the implementation of the WatchSA management system and creation of the Board of Management, who are responsible for the strategic direction of the Neighbourhood Watch program. Some of the new initiatives during this time were:
On 4 July 2007, the town of Keith became the 600th Neighbourhood Watch group in South Australia and in 2008 Transit Watch was added to the growing WatchSA portfolio.
In 2012 the hard work and dedication of Neighbourhood Watch volunteers was highlighted by the Holden Hill Neighbourhood Watch area receiving the Federal Minister’s Award for Innovation in relation to internet safety, the theft of electronic equipment, and security of personal property when shopping.
In November 2016, Neighbourhood Watch SA underwent the first major step of a digital reinvigoration with the launch of its state-wide Facebook page. This was followed shortly by the launch of a new Neighbourhood Watch website, bringing Neighbourhood Watch SA firmly into the digital age.
In late 2017, the new Neighbourhood Watch SA mascot – a friendly German Shepherd pup – joined the team. After a Facebook competition which saw more than 300 names submitted, the winning name was announced as Watcher Jeff. Watcher Jeff has gone on to appear in a range of Neighbourhood Watch SA’s promotional material, and in person at countless community events.
In 2018 the Neighbourhood Watch Board of Management expanded with the appointment of two external Board members. The new Board members have contributed their valuable professional expertise and offered a fresh perspective on the future direction of the Neighbourhood Watch program.
Today there are over 130 active Neighbourhood Watch groups across South Australia with thousands of hard-working volunteers playing their part to make their communities safer.