By Calvin at 14:36 GMT, 7 years ago
Well, Misery Monday has been and gone, we’ve brushed off the cobwebs, some of us are a bit skint, but we’re set and enthused for what the New Year is going to bring us. Isn’t that just great!
Yesterday on my news page I posted up a few figures that demonstrated how police and PCSO numbers are falling alongside the continued reduction in crime reporting. I choose the last two words carefully as after the recent HMIC report into how police record crime (or don’t) I suspect we might see a slowing down of the falls or maybe even a very slight rise in crime over the next 12 months. But that’s figures and statistics for you!
The reality is that opportunity for crime is ever present and regardless of what the statistics might tell us there are still plenty of people out there who won’t be able to keep their hands of your things, so my challenge to you this year is to make it the year you secured your home.
I’m sorry to say that making an insecure home secure does not come cheap. That said, if you know what you need to do you’ll be able to make plans and, if necessary, spread the improvements over the course of the year.
First of all you’ll need some independent advice and you should start by contacting your local police to see if they offer home visits to advise you about security. In spite of the police budget cuts some police services are still managing to offer this service, but you should make sure the person who is coming to see you is sufficiently qualified. Back in the ‘good old days’ the ‘Crime Prevention Officer’ or ‘Crime Reduction Officer’ would have attended a four week residential course run then by the Home Office. These days I believe this has been reduced to around two weeks together with some on-line study. If the person has only had a one or two day course then while they’ll be able to give you some general advice and perhaps let you know what’s been going on in your area (crime-wise) they probably won’t be able to provide detailed information about locks, alarms, security standards and building regulations.
Your next possible option for advice would be to get in touch with your local Master Locksmith, some of whom will offer their services free in the hope that you will use them to provide some of the solutions. They will have expert knowledge about a wide variety of security applications, but by definition their advice won’t be wholly independent.
If it’s definitely independent advice you’re after then you should get in touch with the Association of Security Consultants. They operate under a strict code of practice and members come from the military, police and security industry and possess a wealth of experience and expertise, but obviously you’ll have to pay for their services.
If you don’t want to pay for an independent consultant, would rather not use the services of a Master Locksmith and the police don’t offer the service then you could use the free service provided by this website. The Home Security Survey will take you around 15 minutes or so to complete and you’ll be sent a free security report and risk assessment score. The report will contain links to pages on the website for more detailed advice and once you’ve made some improvements you can do the survey again to see how your score has improved. Although the survey is detailed it is not the same as someone actually visiting your home, but it’s a darned sight better than working your way through a simple checklist.
Where should you start?
Although it would be great if you could carry out all the recommendations in one go I know, for most of you, that won't be realistic. So here's a suggested priority list.
- Make sure you are complying with everything that your insurers have demanded. This is a very important aspect as certain security measures will be a condition of your insurance cover
- Do those 'no' or 'low cost' items, such as locking tools away, marking your property, closing and locking the doors and windows properly, not displaying the contents of your home to the street by using blinds and nets etc.
- Do what you can to make your place look occupied when it's not, such as buying some timers or 'dusk to dawn' sensors for your lights and following the Holiday Checklist should you be away for a few days.
- Look at the things you can do to reduce access to the more vulnerable parts of your dwelling, such as improving the fences or maybe erecting a gate to the front of the side drive.
- Check that the garden is free of tools and other things that could be used to force open a door or window. Lock these things away in a secure shed or other outbuilding.
- Do consider purchasing an intruder alarm, which the British Crime Survey (Now the Crime Survey for England and Wales) finding strongly suggests is an effective deterrent.
- If you're thinking about replacing your doors and windows, do get ones that are certificated to the enhanced security standards (e.g. PAS24: 2012).
- One you've followed a few of the recommendations carry out another survey to see how your risk assessment score has changed - good luck!
Are you going to accept my challenge? I do hope so!
Master Locksmiths Association: http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/find-a-locksmith/
Association of Security Consultants: http://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/references-and-library/714/association-of-security-consultants/
The Crime Prevention Website’s Home Security Survey: http://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/home-security-assessment/468/home-security-survey--diy/