The new Neighbourhood Watch: How the NSW Police Force uses Facebook for community engagement

Andrew Kelly, Amalie Finlayson

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


The NSW Police Force has turned to Facebook to renew its community-policing efforts with the public. In 2011, the organisation launched Project Eyewatch, a community-policing program designed around the dialogic capability of social media. Project Eyewatch is a modern version of Neighbourhood Watch; only police engage the public online instead of at school halls. The NSW Police Force now has more than 110 Facebook sites operating under the banner of Project Eyewatch, each independently administered by police officers working at commands in local communities and in specialist sections of the organisation. Police organisations have been slow to embrace social networking but most have come to recognise the importance of being a part of online social media networks. However, studies have shown that many police organisations are using new technology to communicate in old ways, using Twitter and Facebook to transmit crime and policing information with little regard for customer feedback and the dialogic potential of online communication. This paper examines the efficacy of Project Eyewatch communication and, in particular, the program's influence on public confidence and trust in police. It considers the issues, risks and organisational constraints of using Facebook, and examines whether the strategy is meeting one of its primary objectives: to facilitate dialogic engagement with the public. The paper is based on a recent study that evaluated the efficacy of Project Eyewatch as a strategy for engaging the public in community policing (Kelly, 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2014 ANZCA Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationThe digital and the social: communication for inclusion and exchange
EditorsDiana Bossio
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2014 Annual Conference - Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 09 Jul 201411 Jul 2014 (Conference proceedings)

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1448-4331


ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2014 Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleThe digital and the social: Communication for inclusion and exchange
OtherThe annual conference the major event in the ANZCA calendar. The conference provides members with valuable professional development opportunities, including scholarly publication, networking and presentation, and learning about the latest national and international trends in media and communications research, teaching and learning. Research students are encouraged and supported to take advantage of formal and informal mentoring opportunities afforded by participation in the conference and other activities of the association. The conference also provides an important occasion for recognizing the achievements and contributions of members in the field.

Each year the conference is held in a different location in either Australia or New Zealand, and is organised by the incoming Vice-president (who becomes the Association's president for the following year). For information about the forthcoming conference please follow the link on the right hand side of this page.
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