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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Do We Still Consider Neighbours to be Part of Effective Home Security?

Written by Posted On Thursday, 17 November 2016 16:23

If you know your neighbours’ full name or what they do for a living, you are already doing better than 70% of British people. As our lives have become less rooted to one house or neighbourhood and more routered into internet devices, our relationships with our neighbours have become increasingly distant.

One of the greatest benefits of living in a close-knit neighbourhood has, traditionally, been enhanced home security. However, technological developments have rendered so many other long-established security measures old-fashioned and unsafe, that our neighbours may no longer be a part of effective home security.

Are Neighbourhood Watch watching?

Every since it was launched, researchers across the UK, America, Canada and Australia have been attempting to gage how effective Neighbourhood Watch schemes are at deterring and addressing local crime. Many studies claim to have found areas where crime has been significantly reduced by the scheme, but the results are almost all anecdotal and are extremely varied.

Even before we had mobile phones and household computers, technology was flagged up as an issue. In 1961 Jane Jacobs, an influential American-Canadian journalist, observed that people spend more time watching television than they do sitting outside or looking out of their windows. The communities that did manage to form patrol groups or actively watched for crime, tended to form in neighbourhoods which were already low in crime, and so did not prove that the schemes were particularly effective.

Today, the average Briton spends over 8 hours a day absorbed in one technological device or another. While we stay in and watch tv, outside CCTV has fast taken over the role of watching over us. There are approximately 5 million surveillance cameras in UK. Unlike Neighbourhood Watch, these provide reassurance and protection through deterrence 24 hours a day. Carter Security supply surveillance systems with live monitoring services, and remote monitoring options. This means that the duties usually fulfilled by local residents are now carried out remotely by professionals, or at home from the sofa.

Not only is CCTV a strong crime deterrent for offences such as property crime and robbery, but it also a much stronger source of evidence in court than local eye witness accounts. Eyewitness are notoriously unreliable, whereas CCTV footage often provides irrefutable evidence in court, and helps to solve many police cases. 

We’re too estranged to ask for neighbourly favours

Technology has gradually removed our need for neighbourly assistance. The internet has enabled us to sustain longer distance relationships than ever before, so we no longer look to neighbours for companionship, while grocery-ordering smart fridges and 24hr convenience stores have stopped us from ever needing to pop nextdoor for the proverbial cup of milk or sugar.

In his book Disconnected, Austrian politician Andrew Leigh observes that over the last 30 years the number of households who felt they could ask a neighbour for a favour has fallen significantly. The reliance on your neighbour to check your house while you are away, or take in milk from the doorstep to make the house appear occupied are redundant services.

Nowadays, remote CCTV monitoring, and emergency response burglar alarms are enough to secure your house over a long period of unoccupancy, without the assistance of neighbours. Even tasks such as feeding pets and taking the bins out are covered by professional security services. CMS Keyholding represent the modern alternative to traditional neighbourhood property protection. In the event of a security issue, such as a break-in or gas leak, a professional Key Guard would arrive at your house and handle the situation. 


With access to a host of services constantly at our fingertips, home security has evolved to effectively remove the role of our next door neighbours. Of course, a good relationship with people in our local communities is still a valuable thing, and there are neighbours who do provide security support. For the majority of households, however, technology represents a much more reliable, comprehensive means of property protection. You can’t choose your neighbours but you can choose your security system.

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