Press releases

Cybercrime is More of a Threat Than Community Based Crime say Over a Third of Neighbourhood Watch Members

Attitudes towards and experiences of cybercrime during the Covid-19 pandemic polled in a national study of 28,000 people


London, United Kingdom, April 15, 2021 – Over a third (39%) of Neighbourhood Watch members in England and Wales believe cybercrime is now more of a threat than community based crime such as home burglary, according to research carried out on behalf of Cyberhood Watch, a joint initiative between Neighbourhood Watch and Avast. Members of the organisation originally set up to protect the public against community based crimes have become increasingly concerned with cybercrime, while almost a third (32%) believe the internet is a more dangerous place than before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

The survey found that almost one in five respondents have fallen victim to cybercrime during the Covid-19 outbreak, with 36% of this group losing money. Of those who suffered financially, one in four lost more than £1,000. 

A further 39% of the 28,000 members polled had experienced an increase in the number of targeted phishing attempts, reinforcing public concerns about the growth in cybercrime and Covid’s impact on internet safety.

Peter Turner, Consumer Security Expert, Avast, said, “For the vast majority of us, our lives have moved predominantly online; whether it’s accessing important services like online banking or food shopping, communicating with friends and family members, education services and for many, work. We are sharing our most valuable data more than ever before, and creating an online identity which it is vital to keep safe and protected. Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen opportunistic cybercriminals attempting to take advantage of this, which is reflected by the experiences and views of Neighbourhood Watch members. Neighbourhood Watch works hard to ensure that no one feels isolated or vulnerable in their community, and the Cyberhood Watch initiative helps extend this purpose to the online world.”

Avast and Neighbourhood Watch launched Cyberhood Watch in 2019, with the goal to provide people with information and tools to stay safe online and to reach local communities through the charity’s grassroots network. The initiative gives people timely and straightforward information about cyber threats and how to protect themselves online. One example of a cyber threat that has been growing in popularity since the beginning of the ongoing pandemic is stalkerware, malicious software that allows people to track an individual’s location, intercept texts and emails, and access photos and videos. Between March and December 2020, Avast observed a 75% uplift in detections of stalkerware in the UK compared to the first two months of the year when the country wasn’t in lockdown. 

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch said, “Neighbourhood Watch was founded to help people protect themselves and their communities. While traditionally people view Neighbourhood Watch as largely focused on physical crime, over recent years our members recognise the very real threat that cybercrime poses to themselves, their friends, family and neighbours. We’ve heard countless stories from our members about the increase in scams, phishing and hacking they’ve been subjected to, with a significant portion of our membership feeling more at risk of cybercrime than physical crime. We’re proud to be working with Avast to ensure our members continue to receive the information they need to to protect themselves in the online space.”


For more information on Cyberhood Watch, check out the resources, toolkit content and other information to keep you safe at: https://www.avast.com/uk-cyberhood

About Neighbourhood Watch:

Neighbourhood Watch is a national charity that works to create safer, more inclusive and better-connected communities. With over 2.3 million household members, over 90,000 volunteers, and a brand recognition of 94%, it is the largest crime prevention movement in the UK. Neighbourhood Watch provides advice, support, networks and events for our members, to help bring people together as neighbours and communities to prevent crime and ensure fewer people feel afraid, vulnerable or isolated where they live. The need for this is as great today as it ever was. Visit: www.ourwatch.org.uk.