Neighbourhood Support

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Neighbourhood Support is a term used, predominantly in New Zealand, to refer to schemes similar in intent to "Neighbourhood Watch", with some additional objectives.

Neighbourhood Support is a community owned programme that is promoted as making homes, streets, neighbourhoods and communities safer and more caring places in which to live.[1]

Neighbourhood Support works closely with the Police and a number of other organisations,[2] to reduce crime and to prepare people to deal with emergencies and natural disasters in their community.


Neighbourhood Watch was introduced to New Zealand as a crime prevention initiative in the late 1970s. The initiative evolved to become Neighbourhood Support New Zealand, a community owned and managed organisation with a wide-ranging interest in crime prevention and community safety.

Neighbourhood Support became an Incorporated Society in 2000.[3] In 2001 it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Zealand Police. The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding is to establish and promote a collaborative working relationship between Neighbourhood Support New Zealand Incorporated and the Police.


Neighbourhood Support aims to make homes, streets, neighbourhoods and communities safer and more caring places in which to live.[1]

This is primarily achieved through establishment of small cells of households known as a "Neighbourhood Support Group", comprising anywhere from 4 to 50 residential households in a single street or suburb. Groups throughout a single suburb or a wider town or city area are co-ordinated either via a civilian co-ordinator (paid or voluntary), or through a Community Constable based at a local Police station.

The main purpose of the groups is to encourage neighbours to know one another and share information on crime or suspicious activities in their area. Early contact with authorities such as the Police is also encouraged for reporting of unusual observations or unacceptable behaviour. Crime prevention information can also be shared with group members via Community Constables, or Neighbourhood Support Area Co-ordinators.

A secondary objective of Neighbourhood Support is to facilitate communication between Civil Defence (Emergency Management) and the community during a man-made or natural disaster affecting residents.

Typical Scheme[edit]

The following description is based on the framework adopted in New Zealand but is similar in intent to schemes known as "Neighbourhood Watch" in other countries.

Neighbourhood Support National Body[edit]

Neighbourhood Support New Zealand is the National body that oversees a total of 12 district Neighbourhood Support organisations throughout New Zealand.

Neighbourhood Support Group[edit]

Small cells of households in a single street or adjoining houses in nearby streets form what is known as a "Neighbourhood Support Group". This can comprise anywhere from 4 to 50 residential households in a single street or suburb.

Information about local crime, crime prevention and community safety advice is provided to neighbours through participation in a Neighbourhood Support Group. Members exchange phone numbers and meet occasionally over an issue or simply to stay in touch. Some groups may have organised meetings or social functions, but this is incidental to the role of the contact person and may be co-ordinated by another group member. More recently, email addresses are also collected and are being used very effectively to enable faster contact with groups.

Each group is supported by a "Group Contact" person who is one of the members of the group. Larger groups may have several "Contact" persons. The role of the Contact Person is to ensure that group contact lists are updated as people arrive or leave the street, and group contact lists are provided to group members and to Area Co-ordinators. Newsletters received from the Area Co-ordinator or Community Constable are also distributed to members.

Neighbourhood Support Area[edit]

Rural towns or sections of a city are co-ordinated by one or more "Area Co-ordinators" whose role is to assist Neighbourhood Support Groups with crime related information for their area, provide a conduit for Police to distribute crime alerts, and pass on other community safety information.

In some cases, a single Street Contact person may also act as an informal Area Contact, tying together a number of groups in the same suburb or street.

Neighbourhood Support Governance[edit]

Governance of the Neighbourhood Support movement in New Zealand, is provided through a national organisation Neighbourhood Support New Zealand which is overseen by a Board. Board members are elected civilian representatives from each Neighbourhood Support District. A Police representatives nominated by New Zealand Police national headquarters attends Board meetings representing the Commissioner, and has a liaison and advisory role. A formal Memorandum of Understanding is established between Neighbourhood Support New Zealand and the New Zealand Police to make clear the nature of the relationship, and the obligations of each party.

Regionally, activities within each district are overseen by a District Committee with boundaries aligned with those of the Police Districts.[4]

There are local committees established in most individual rural towns or cities across New Zealand. The local committees exist to support fundraising for employment of co-ordinators and to fund promotional activities, while the District committees have the purpose of overseeing groups of towns or cities and enabling them to more effectively support one another. The district committee also provides a vehicle for election of a District Representative to the National organisation, and can provide local oversight where there is no local committee.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b What is Neighbourhood Support?, NZ Police website, 23 September 2007
  2. ^ Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2006, NZ Police Website
  3. ^ Certificate of Incorporation, Neighbourhood Support New Zealand Society Incorporated 2000, Incorporated Societies Register, Companies Office, New Zealand
  4. ^ NZ Police – Organisation, Wikipedia, "New Zealand Police"

External links[edit]