Digital literacy and information inequality in Dutch WhatsApp Neighbourhood Crime Prevention groups


  • Anouk Mols Erasmus University Rotterdam


In many neighbourhoods in the Netherlands, citizens aim to safeguard their neighbourhood via WhatsApp Neighbourhood Crime Prevention (WNCP), a grassroots form of participatory policing. This short article highlights how differences in digital literacy and information inequality lead to power imbalances in Dutch neighbourhoods connected via WNCP. Citizens, community police, and municipalities need to be aware that WNCP practices produce an arrangement of relationships within neighbourhood contexts, characterised by unequal power structures and opaque information sharing processes. These issues can be (partially) overcome by educating citizens about safe and privacy-preserving surveillance practices, involving and informing non-participants actively, and demanding more transparency on the part of the WNCP moderators.