NEIGHBOURHOOD watch teams around Wiltshire hope to recruit more volunteers to cover the whole county after a new study revealed that crime rates drop in areas they patrol.

The Neighbourhood Watch Network announced that residents living in areas covered by the crime-prevention movement experience 11 per cent fewer crimes than in areas where there are no active NHW schemes.

The Wiltshire branch of the network has more than 2,000 scheme and area co-ordinators with around 10,000 members - but hopes to recruit more.

Branch chairman Mike Davidson said: “We need to develop from one central committee for the whole force area to volunteer groups in each police team area.

“Our central committee is two members short of being able to represent all seven police areas. As a top priority, we need to find those central committee members for Wiltshire East and the new Wiltshire South East police team area.

“Then we need to develop groups in each police area through the leadership of our central committee members and additional volunteers.

“Our partnership agreements, signed last year with both Wiltshire Police and the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner, need to be strengthened. It is the police and the PCC who can provide us with the resources to grow and communicate better with our membership.

“We have a plan now we need the volunteers across Wiltshire and Swindon to allow us to make a positive difference to community safety alongside our police and local councils.”

Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson supported the network’s plans and agreed to develop links between the teams and the police.

He said: “Wiltshire Police and I have signed partnership agreements with Neighbourhood Watch and we are keen to keep developing the established partnership between the network, force and my office.

“Our citizens in policing department is working hard to build the relationship, including support for NHW members on how to use our community messaging database which I pay for.

“Good links are also being created with community policing teams, with many community coordinators corresponding with NHW coordinators to share intelligence as well as helping to direct members of the public to their local NHW committee member.”

Since the mid-1990s, there has been a significant drop in burglaries according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales. During this period, the research by Nottingham Trent University revealed that burglaries have fallen faster in Neighbourhood Watch areas than others with otherwise identical household and area profiles.

The research revealed that 72 per cent of Neighbourhood Watch members live in urban areas, 22 per cent in rural areas and 6 per cent in inner city areas.

The Neigbhourhood Watch Network’s CEO John Hayward-Cripps said: “The evidence is clear. No matter your background, social class, whether you own your own property or rent, you are safer if you live within a Neighbourhood Watch area.

“The modern day Neighbourhood Watch operates in many different ways and is flexible to how people live and work. Some are run entirely online through social media, others have regular face to face meetings. Whatever works for you, works for Neighbourhood Watch.

“If you’re worried about crime in your area or just want to get to know your neighbours a bit better, starting a Neighbourhood Watch could be the perfect project for you. Our website offers a wealth of advice, guidance and help for anyone considering this.”