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Streetwatchers reclaim the streets in Weyhe

Learning Points

The streetwatcher scheme in Weyhe has been a lot more successful than similar 'nightwatch' schemes elsewhere in Germany. According to Herr Grosser this is due to two factors:

  • The association Pro-Youth has been very active in networking with other local associations and attracting their members to take part in training sessions run for volunteers who work with young people. These training sessions have been condensed into two weekends and give a qualification - and have acquired a reputation for being great fun!
  • Pro-Youth has convinced the local press to give great coverage to the work of the streetwatchers and other Pro-Youth activities.

The streetwatchers have learnt that the negative image of young people which is often shown in the media is generally not valid. In particular, when young people are treated as equals and are provided with support when they need it, they tend to react positively.

However, the streetwatchers have also influenced young people to be more willing to comply with legal rules and to respect social conventions. Unlike the police, streetwatchers don’t take punitive action which intimidates young people; rather they use the power of persuasion, and the trust they have built up, to resolve conflicts before they escalate. Clearly, the streetwatchers are not an auxiliary police force – they operate rather as ‘friends and helpers’ of young people. While this has been a well-known slogan of the police in Germany, it has not always been credible – the streetwatchers have made it a reality.

About this case study
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Günther Meyer


Marcus Grosser


Günther Meyer and Marcus Grosser wrote this case study for Governance International in October 2011. The case study was updated in October 2014.

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