For a government pledged to be 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime', its latest initiative appears to have backfired spectacularly.

Plans to strengthen the Neighbourhood Watch Association have sparked a revolt among Britain's army of curtain-twitchers, whose vigilance helps protect six million homes. Senior members of the association's national body, which represents 165,000 local co-ordinators, have accused the government of secretly plotting against it.

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