Mr Howard presented the awards for the General Accident Neighbourhood Watch Competition and welcomed the growing success of the movement.
He said: 'The Neighbourhood Watch movement now has 153,000 schemes in England and Wales - an increase of 10,000 on last year.
'This is an important landmark. Those involved in Neighbourhood Watch never cease to impress me with their dedication to their cause.
'It has now embarked on a major new partnership with the Association of Chief Police Officers agreeing a new 10-point Action Plan.
'This will act as a blue-print to take Neighbourhood Watch confidently into the next century.'
Mr Howard focused on the role of the Crime Prevention College in training Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators.
'The country as a whole benefits from the success of Neighbourhood Watch. It is only right that we at national level should do what we can to help it.
'I am keen to provide local support to help individual watch co-ordinators. And I have asked the Crime Prevention College to assess the options for training them and let me have their recommendations as soon as possible.'
Mr Howard also underlined the importance of a project looking at the potential for Neighbourhood Watch to help the police combat repeat victimisation.
'Repeat victimisation brings untold misery to thousands of people - often amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
'Neighbourhood Watch can really help here. I am delighted that a pilot scheme is to run in Northumbria, and I await the results with great interest.
'I suspect they will show that Neighbourhood Watch can deliver real reductions in crime locally and help the police service to achieve important national goals.'