The beginner’s guide to starting a neighbourhood watch group

As South Africans, the unfortunate reality is that crime is part of our everyday lives. This is why residents are stepping up and forming neighbourhood watch groups (NHW).

by | Aug 17

3 min read

While a NHW member’s job should never include taking the law into their own hands, the success of neighbourhood watches lies in their very existence and presence in the areas they know best – as well as their cooperation and relationships with local police and private security providers. Setting up a NHW is not as simple as creating a WhatsApp group bursting with enthusiastic, local residents, but it’s worth the work it requires.

First things first

Once you’ve got a group of residents interested in this initiative (perhaps a WhatsApp or Facebook group will come in handy in the early stages, after all), it’s recommended you select a leader or ‘champion’ to spearhead your efforts. This person should not only have a lot of enthusiasm, but also time to dedicate to the NHW.

Register your neighbourhood watch group

This registration needs to take place through the Community Police Forum in order to be legal. It also provides you with an opportunity to get to know your local SAPS sector manager and force which will be of great benefit down the line. After all, successful NHW groups are built on understanding and cooperation between residents and their local police force.


Once your NHW is registered and up and running, it will need members who volunteer to take part in its patrolling efforts. As we said, it’s the known and visible presence of the group which helps prevent criminals from targeting certain areas.

Patrollers’ jobs include driving around the neighbourhood with their group’s kit bag. This bag contains a log book, pepper spray, and clipboard, giving patrollers the tools they need to take note of things such as the registration numbers and make and model of suspicious vehicles. At the end of each shift, the patroller will make notes for the NHW records and to keep patrollers in the loop of what’s been going on during the shifts before theirs.

Groups may also set up in-person meetings or virtual forms of communication to keep in touch and organise their efforts successfully.

Creating a safer neighbourhood for all

Never underestimate the power technology has in creating a safer world. For example, Tracker’s CareGuard service powered by AURA allows you to raise an alarm and get a private security response within minutes by sharing your location pin directly in WhatsApp, which is a platform your NHW is likely already using.

Help your family and neighbours sleep better knowing that the SAPS, private security companies, local residents and cutting-edge technology have joined forces to prevent and combat crime in your area.