The ethos of neighbours keeping a watchful eye over each others homes and property proved such a powerful deterrent to criminals that insurance companies began to offer discounts for members of active groups.
But as acquisitive crime slumped over the last two decades, the need for Neighbourhood Watch became less apparent and the popularity of the service, which has continued to get support from South Yorkshire Police, waned.
Now the service has been given a fresh start in Barnsley, following years of policing cuts and the signs of a rise in crime, with longstanding Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator John Hallows appealing for more young people to get involved to rejuvenate the scheme.
It has already seen signs of growth, with 15 new schemes launched recently, more than the total for the previous three years.
Down the decades, members have relied on word of mouth, landline and mobile phone messages to pass information between residents and the authorities, but now South Yorkshire Police have launched an ‘alerts’ system which sends highly localised messages to those who sign up to warn of threats and trends in crime patterns, useful information for Neighbourhood Watch members.
An event took place at Barnsley Town Hall to relaunch the service, with both Chief Constable Stephen Watson and Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings, along with Mayor of Barnsley Coun Steve Green.
Dr Billings said: “It is our passionate desire that no one person in our society has to feel they are the victim or potential victim of people who behave in an anti-social way.”
Police neighbourhood officers, newly introduced across the force and put into service first in Barnsley, have worked to help regenerate the Neighbourhood Watch movement.