Why do citizens become a member of an online neighbourhood watch? A case study in The Netherlands

Wendy Schreurs*, Nina Franjkic, José H. Kerstholt, Peter W. de Vries, Ellen Giebels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
166 Downloads (Pure)


Aided by the growth of Internet and social media, citizens increasingly organize themselves to communally increase safety in their own neighbourhood. In this context, a prominent type of online self-organization includes online neighbourhood watches. In an exploratory case-study, 214 citizens of one neighbourhood in a medium-sized city in the Netherlands were asked in a door-to-door survey whether they currently were a member of an online neighbourhood watch. Subsequently, non-members were asked whether they would consider becoming a member. Departing from the Community Engagement Theory developed for the domain of physical safety, we examined to what extent both membership and membership orientation were influenced by psychological drivers on the individual, community and institutional level. Results showed that current membership was associated with drivers on the individual level (lower risk perception and higher response efficacy) and community level (lower sense of community and more previous community participation), but not the institutional level (trust in the police). Furthermore, the willingness to become a member was related to individual response efficacy only. These insights can be used by e.g. the police in their communication with citizens on online platforms, as well as when aiming to further stimulate these initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-701
Number of pages15
JournalPolice Practice and Research
Issue number6
Early online date9 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Online neighbourhood watch
  • citizen participation
  • efficacy
  • sense of community


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