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'If you don't join a Neighbourhood Watch or Street Watch scheme you could be making life easier for criminals' is t...
'If you don't join a Neighbourhood Watch or Street Watch scheme you could be making life easier for criminals' is the challenge of new Home Office anti-crime commercials.

Six million households are already involved in 143,000 Watch schemes across the country.

The major aims of the hard-hitting campaign are to increase the number in inner-city areas and involve more young people.

Television commercials, starting 8 January, feature surreal situations in which members of the public seem to be helping criminals. Regional press and local radio advertising will echo the theme.

Home Office minister Timothy Kirkhope said:

'Everyone has a part to play in preventing crime. Over 60% of arrests are made thanks to help from the public. The police cannot be expected to do it all on their own.

'Neighbourhood Watch and Street Watch schemes are the way members of public can help crack crime safely and I commend all those who give their time and effort. And I am pleased with the impact they are already having.

'No-one is expected to tackle a criminal or get involved in a conflict. We don't want people to take the law into their own hands. We don't want have-a-go heroes.

'If you see something suspicious phone the police. Your phone call could make all the difference.'

He added: 'We're not asking people to make a huge commitment. By giving as little as two hours a month, members of the public can make a significant contribution to their local schemes.

'Our message is clear. If people don't join when given the opportunity it's as good as giving criminals a helping hand.'

The national television, local radio and regional press campaign is part of the 'Partners Against Crime' initiative launched in 1994 by home secretary Michael Howard.

Research feedback from Phase One of the campaign indicated that some people were worried about the time commitment they would have to make. They were also unaware of the existing size of Neighbourhood Watch.

To tackle this, the new advertising explains that six million households are already involved in 143,000 schemes across the country. People could help to cut crime in their community by devoting as little as two hours a month.

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