Neighborhood Watch programs around the world

May 16, 2019

Neighborhood Watch programs are used to deter crime, common concerns being theft and vandalism. Have you ever wondered if other countries had Neighborhood Watch organisations too?

Well they do!

Here are some snapshots showing what Neighborhood Watch programs look like in some countries around the world!


Sweden’s Neighbourhood watch program has been in place for over 40 years.

  • Neighbourhood Watch is run by the government in Sweden, under local crime prevention council
  • Two neighborhood watch programs in Sweden have been scientifically studied, one area was found to have decreased crime by 37 % largely due to the implementation of neighborhood watch program


In Japan, prior to 1947, there was the tonarigumi was used for the maintenance of public security. A network of informants was established linking every neighborhood association with the Police to watch for possible infractions of national laws, and suspect political or immoral behavior. The group is now called chonaikai, or jichikai. These associations help residents to connect and work together – through various activities and voluntary services – for the common good of the community.

Groups of committee members and residents take turns to patrol their neighbourhood. There is also a fire patrol which reminds residents to take precautions against fire. Armed with flashlights, each group patrols an assigned area.

Residents participating in a fire prevention drill organised by the neighbourhood association.

Residents participating in a fire prevention drill organised by the neighbourhood association.


In recent years, the Dutch have started running their neighbourhood watch programs heavily relying on ‘Whats App’ groups. The program is organised by members of the community, and police are included in the groups. The program has proven to be very successful. Using the app has reduced burglary by about 50%!

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A sign showing that there is an active neighbourhood whats app group


In Ireland, there are two programs with different focus; Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert.

Neighbourhood Watch is a crime prevention and community safety programme for urban areas. It operates as a partnership between An Garda Síochána (this the Irish word for the police organisation in Ireland) and the public. It works on the basis that every member of a community can help to improve the quality of life in the area by keeping a look out for neighbours and reporting suspicious activities to the Gardaí.

Community Alert is a community safety programme for rural areas with an emphasis on older and vulnerable people. It operates as a partnership between the community, An Garda Síochána and Muintir na Tíre (this is national organisation promoting (rural) community development in Ireland, established in the 1930s). The Community Alert program works on the principle of shared responsibility for crime prevention.


So as you can see, different parts of the world have different structures and implementation. Neighbourhood watch programs are an important part of a safe and connected community.