Policy Factsheet

Neighborhood Watch Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Neighborhood watch can deter offenders if they know local residents are likely to report suspicious activity. 2
  • Neighborhood watch may also reduce criminal opportunities, such as creating signs of occupancy when neighbors are away from home. 2

Community Groups

  • Community-based Organizations
  • Law Enforcement
  • Local Government

Policy Components

  • Organized block watches, usually run by a block captain
  • Use of property-marking and home security surveys
  • Use of a neighborhood liaison to the local police department

Desired Outcomes

  • Reduction in neighborhood crime
  • Greater social cohesion
  • Reduction in the opportunity for crime to occur
  • Improved relationship with local law enforcement

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • 16-26% reductions in crime 2

Community Examples

Links to Policy Examples

  • Wake Village, Texas Code of Ordinances, Title 3 Chapter 32.15
  • Palm Springs, California Ordinance 1666. Section 2.55.130 Establishes a Neighborhood Empowerment Program in which Neighborhood Watch programs are included http://www.themoviecolony.org/docs/Ordinance1666.pdf

Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.


  1. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.  

  2. Anderson, LM, St. Charles, J, Fullilove, MT, Scrimshaw, SC, Fielding, JE, Normand, J, & the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (2003). Providing affordable family housing and reducing residential segregation by income: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24(3S), S47-67.  

  3. Ellen, IG & Turner, MA (2003). Do neighborhoods matter and why? : Choosing a better life? Evaluating the moving to opportunity social experiment. (pg 313-338). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.