The Crime Prevention Website


Tuesday 19th June 2012

Dear Friend in Crime Prevention, 

First of all can we say to you a massive thank you for signing up to this first Newsletter from The Crime Prevention Website (TCPW). 
We want to begin by letting you know how this is going to work.
We don’t want to weigh down your inbox with too many newsletters. You probably get too many of those already and, of course, you can easily visit the website anyway to see how things are progressing.  So our intention is to produce a newsletter about every 6 weeks.
Each newsletter will run along a similar format and will provide information under some and sometimes all of the following headings:

The Crime Prevention Website – how are we doing?

We’ll let you know about a few facts and figures about visitor numbers, page views and the most visited pages. We’ll also inform you about new advice pages on the site and bring your attention to any contributions from our supporters.

Website Updates

We'll talk about the latest updates to the website, new and updated pages and sections.

The Home Security Survey – the results

It’s still early days for the results to be ‘statistically significant’ as the statisticians like to say (try saying that with a mouthful of toast!), but some of the results will nevertheless be indicative of our home security strengths and weaknesses and I’ll highlight a few of the findings each time. 

Crime prevention initiatives

This will give us an opportunity to let you know about what the Government, Police and Neighbourhood Watches are up to and gives us an opportunity to post notices about forthcoming events if you let us know what these are.

Crime in the news

This is self-explanatory

Crime prevention products

We’ll focus on a different security product each time and bring news of anything new on the market.  We’re particularly interested in products you may have come across together with your comments about them.

Down my way

We get to hear about lots of the crimes that go on ‘down my way’ in West London, especially from my wife’s clients (My wife’s a beautician who works from home).  The victims’ experiences of these crimes often serve as a useful warning to the rest of us and I’ll focus on the detail of one or two of these in each newsletter.

And finally...

For other stuff of interest not captured elsewhere
We'll also reference who wrote section after the heading where it is relevant.

Let’s begin...


The Crime Prevention Website – how are we doing? - by Ben

Having spent 22 months to create this website we’re sure you can imagine that the past ten weeks have been very exciting and at times a rather nerve-racking experience for us.  Were we going to get sufficient visitors? Were Calvin’s former colleagues in the police going to support us? And would the site appeal to Neighbourhood and Home Watch members?
Well, it seems that our concerns can be laid to rest, as the site is doing rather well, in fact much better than we had hoped for in such a short time.
The power of the internet to reach people has certainly been confirmed to us when we compare it to the book Calvin wrote with his good friend and crime prevention specialist, Heather Gurden, from Essex Police.  They sold 3,500 copies of ‘Home Security’ in two years before it got pulled; never to be reprinted again even though wonderful reviews were plentiful. In just 10 weeks our site has been visited by more than 7,000 people who have viewed over 30,000 pages!
So, how do we stand amongst other crime prevention websites? Well, we are currently hovering between pages 1 and 2 on a Google search for the words ‘crime prevention’, which is up from page 17 when we started.   If you search ‘Home Security Survey’ or ‘DIY Home Security’ we appear on page 1 most of the time, but if you search for ‘Home Security’ we are somewhere around page 27!

Please link to the crime prevention website

So, how are we going to improve our positions in the search findings, so that more people will find us and get to the detailed information they require? Well, we know that many Neighbourhood Watch members have enthusiastically informed their fellow members and friends by email, which is great, but what would be really useful would be a permanent link from the Watch’s website if they have one.  For example, within 5 days of our link going onto the Bingham Neighbourhood Watch website (a group based in the Vale of Belvoir, Nottinghamshire) our site got 32 referrals. There was also a little spike in Home Security Surveys conducted in Nottinghamshire which were probably related to this new link. Likewise, referrals to us from police forces have been steadily increasing with Thames Valley Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Northamptonshire Police already linked in, with several others to follow.
For links to work they need to be prominent and on a relevant page.  Placing a link in the links section is most welcomed, but it really needs to be on the home page so that more visitors will see it.  For example, one police force has put the link on the front page of the crime prevention section of their website resulting in 152 referrals.  At about the same time another organisation that links to us popped us onto their ‘site map’ and we’ve had 2!
Interestingly we’re having discussions about a link from a major company’s intranet (that’s like an internal internet). The company’s employees travel a great deal and are away from their homes for sometimes days on end. They’re going to help their employees by putting our site on their useful links page so that their employees have ready access to the security advice they need.  If this is something your company would like to do, please let us know. 
It’s easy to link to us, just visit our link page to see how and thank you for helping make this website successful.

Website Updates 

New advice page – taking care at cashpoints -by Calvin  

I had to take this page down just before launch as it needed to be updated to take account of the Chip-and-PIN cards that we all now use. Copying of cards has reduced dramatically since the introduction of Chip-and-PIN, but while there are still many countries around the world that rely on magnetic stripes, such as the USA, it does still go on, so do please heed the advice.
When I was the Crime Prevention Design Adviser in Camden, in Central London, I met up with the banks on a regular basis to deal with crimes being committed at cash machines (ATMs).  Shoulder-surfing at one bank in High Holborn was so bad at one time that the branch manager used to put a member of staff next to their ATMs at peak times to advise customers about the threat.
I used to ask for the usual remedies, such as privacy boxes painted on the road and warnings on the ATM screens, but the best results were achieved through the work conducted by one bank at one of their busiest branches in Central London.  I asked them for the usual remedies and suggested they include dividers between the ATMs to frustrate the deception thefts.  I also asked them to put some reflective material around each of the ATMs to help the customers see what was going on behind. Imagine my surprise when they called me down again to see that they had mirrored the entire wall around the ATMs! The important thing though was that as a consequence of their work the amount of ATM crime at this branch plummeted.  Take a look at the picture of this branch on the new advice page here.
Whatever else happens in the fight against ATM crime the most important thing for all of us to do is to protect our PIN from prying eyes, so do get into the habit of covering the keypad with one hand while entering your PIN with the other, not just at ATMs, but also when using card readers in stores and restaurants.

The Home Security Survey – the results 

One of the unique applications on TCPW is the (anonymous) Home Security Survey.  It was carefully created to provide tailored advice to match the specific crime risks that your home presents to the thief.  As far as we know it’s the first of its kind, probably because of the enormous effort required to produce it (35,000 words!).  It’s been really interesting to analyse the Home Security Survey results as the information not only tells us what we’re doing right (and wrong) but also helps us to better focus our advice.  Nobody’s even asked these questions before and so it’s given us an opportunity to find out what’s really going on out there with people’s home security arrangements.
So, for this first Newsletter, we’ve picked out just a few of the questions that make up the survey to give you an indication of how the results are going to help us and you. Over the next few months we’ll be releasing more results as they can be a good topic for discussion.
In reading these results you should bear in mind that a majority of the surveys have probably been completed by people who are ‘security aware’.  We don’t know this for a fact, because the survey is anonymous, but since many of the surveys have been conducted in response to sending hundreds of emails to neighbourhood watch members we’re confident that this is the case.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that the results are only drawn from 300 completed surveys and although the results thus far are interesting they will become more statistically significant as more surveys are completed.
In the next Newsletter we intend to publish ‘average risk assessment’ scores for the various types of dwellings.  However, some dwelling types, such as flats have not yet had sufficient numbers of completed surveys for the results to be meaningful.  This will come in time though.  We’re hoping that as more police forces and neighbourhood watches link to this website, so more people will feel confident to complete the survey and our findings can be fed back.
Here are the results of nine of the security questions with comment from Calvin

Do you have clear glass or a door viewer in the main entrance door? 

Just over 40% of respondents answered that they do not have a door viewer or clear glass in their main entrance door.  This was a surprisingly high figure, but also indicates to me that we need to ask the question in a different way when we update the application.  This is because it is quite possible that there is a window right next to the door giving an open view of the caller.  That said I have assumed that most respondents would have considered this and if this was the case, would have answered ‘yes’.

Does the main street entrance door have a door chain or limiter? 

Almost 72% of respondents stated that they do not have a door chain or other door limiter device. This was also surprising, since the police (including me) have been harping on about this for many years.  That said there are mixed feelings about the effectiveness of door chains and limiters, because you cannot get away from the fact that a door is most secure when it’s closed and locked.  Take a look at Door chains and limitersto see what I mean.

Do you have a light outside the main street entrance door? 

Thirteen percent of respondents don’t have a light outside their main entrance door.  There could be lots of reasons why 1 in 10 of us don’t have a light outside the main entrance, such as a glaring street lamp outside the dwelling or a light in the hallway that sends light out through the glass in the entrance door or maybe the person just hasn’t got round to it just yet.  The fact remains that they are very useful, especially when operated off a timer, a solar switch or a passive infrared detector. Take a look at Lighting for further advice. 

Do you leave lights on inside your home when you go out at night? 

Although almost 91% percent responded ‘yes’ to this question, 60.8% of these respondents don’t operate internal lights on timers, which means they must rely on the neighbours to switch lights on and off when they go away for a few days or are on holiday (or simply don’t bother).  This is not a good finding and I would urge both the police and Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators to bring this matter up in plenty of time for the summer holiday season. 

How well secured is the garden shed? 

Almost 30% of respondents reckon that their garden shed is not that well secured. This means that Burglar Bill is either going to steal stuff from the shed to sell at the local car boot sale or will use the tools in the shed to break into the dwelling.  Improving the security of the shed doesn’t normally take a great deal of effort or expense and so I recommend that this issue is mentioned in your next NHW or Police newsletter.  If you don’t pen the newsletter perhaps you could bring this to the attention of the person who does. See Security for garden outbuildings

At the rear of my dwelling I have accessible windows that are.. 

Respondents to this question were given a number of descriptions of windows and asked to select which one most closely described their windows.
The good news is that almost 95% of rear windows are secured in some way.  Of interest to me is that 13% of respondents who said they have multi-point locking windows described them as being ‘certificated to BS7950 for Enhanced Security’. This was higher than I thought would be the case, but clearly there is a long way to go before a majority of us have replacement windows that have been designed to keep the burglars out.  If readers are thinking about window replacement do take a look at Windows of enhanced security

Have you marked your valuable property using a security marking system? 

The good news is that 64% of respondents claim to have marked items of property with a marking system, which compares well to when the idea was first introduced in the mid 1980s when the figure was more like 5%.  Take a look at this wonderful old government information film presented by Shaw Taylor of Police Five.  By the way, post coding is a bit old hat now, but do take a look at Property Identification – marking, tagging and tracking

I keep my cash and or valuable jewellery and documents: 

Respondents were asked to choose from a selection of responses and from these I was a little disappointed to discover that 72% of respondents do not own a safe of any description at all and instead hide their valuables around the dwelling.  Only 8.8% of respondents use a safe that is acceptable to their insurance company.  A small domestic safe that meets European or LPCB standards is not as expensive as you might think so do think about getting one.  Lots more information about safes can be found here. 

I keep the spare keys to my dwelling and car keys: 

Respondents were asked to choose from a selection of responses and from these 39% of respondents said they don’t hide their spare car and house keys around the dwelling, because they hadn’t thought this to be a problem before.  Well, it is a problem, but has only become one during the past few years since when most of the cars we buy have immobilisers and or alarms which require the key to steal them.  Long gone as the ‘hot-wiring’ method of car theft, so do please put your spare keys in the safe you’re going to buy or otherwise find a really novel hiding place.  If you’re going away do think about leaving them with a trusted neighbour, especially if they have their own safe!   
We’ve also asked a few questions about the Home Security Survey and this is what the respondents have said:

How would you rate the usefulness of this Home Security Survey so far? 

Almost 98% of people completing the Home Security Survey have found it to be useful with almost 70% stating that it was either very or extremely useful. 
We also asked the following questions. The first before the survey started and the second after the survey had been completed. 

Before you answer the rest of the survey, how would you rate your home security?

Extremely secure                      2.4%
Very secure                            40.7%
Moderately secure                   51.6%
Not very secure                         4.1%
Very insecure                           1.2% 

Now that you've answered the survey, how would you rate your home security?

Extremely secure                      1.2%
Very secure                            30.1%
Moderately secure                   62.6% 
Not very secure                         4.9%
Very insecure                           1.2% 
The results showed us that respondents were overestimating their home security by about 25%, which is a significant figure and one that gives us cause for concern.  Getting an average score in the survey, which is coming in at around 64/100, isn’t too difficult to achieve, but it is clear to us that some people are struggling to achieve it.  Most respondents’ scores can be improved by five or six points by taking some very basic measures, sufficient to put most people’s scores above the average.  Once we’ve had a few hundred more surveys completed we’ll be able to identify a lot more weak points to bring to your attention and so please do try and get your neighbours and friends to have a go!
When respondents were asked if they intended to act upon the Home Security Report a staggering 88.8% said they were likely, very likely or extremely likely to do so.  This finding is most heartening and is what this website is all about.  Of course, we all sometimes have firm intentions to do something, but will this prove to be the case?  Only you will know!

What is the likelihood of you or somebody else carrying out some or all of the home security improvements that will be recommended to you?

Extremely likely                      16.0%
Very likely                              33.6%
Likely                                     39.2%
Not very likely                         10.0%
Not at all likely                          1.2%
And of course, we had to ask this question!!

How does The Crime Prevention Website compare to other similar crime prevention websites? 

Of those who stated a preference (48.8%) 60% stated that TCPW was better than other related websites and just under 40% stated that it was on a par with other related websites.  Only 0.4% of respondents said it was worse than other related websites. Whilst we are pleased with this result it’s clear that we’ve got a lot more to do and in particular we’ve got to get more police forces to link to us from their own website’s crime prevention pages.
Finally, when asked

Would you recommend The Crime Prevention Website to others? 

Just over ninety five percent of respondents said that they would with 62.8% stating that they would be extremely or very likely to recommend it.

What is the likelihood of you recommending this website to other people?

Extremely likely                      28.0%
Very likely                              34.8%
Likely                                     32.4%
Not very likely                           3.6%
Not at all likely                          1.2%
Let’s finish this section by emphasising the fact that until now much of the information about home security was not known about until we unearthed it with this Home Security Survey and you are the very first people to learn the results.  All we hope is that you’ll use this information and the rest that follows in future Newsletters to inform your neighbours.  Without you, the news won’t spread, so thank you for agreeing to take this Newsletter.

Crime prevention products

Ring your bell! 

This is not a new product, but it’s one worth getting hold of.  These little purse bells or ‘dipping bells’ are designed to attach to a purse or handbag using either G-Clips or Crocodile clips. Their purpose is to alert the owner that their purse or handbag is being moved. They’re therefore useful as an anti-theft device for situations where there’s a heightened risk of handbag theft or dipping in places such as busy cafés, street markets, other crowded places and on public transport. 
My wife’s had bells on her purse and handbag for well over a year now and apart from their anti-theft qualities they also serve as an early warning device of her imminent arrival.  On occasion I do confuse her arrival with the cat’s as Chloe’s collar bells make the same noise! 
I am not aware of any research that proves their deterrent value, but they just seem like a really good and simple idea and at about £2 a pop, they’re cheap.  An internet search for ‘purse security bells’ or ‘dipping bells’ will reveal lots of places where you can buy them.  I’ve noticed too that some police forces and neighbourhood watches supply them and sometimes give them away, so it’s worth asking them first.

Down my way -by Calvin 

Some of you may have seen my news item posted 28th May entitled ‘Have a Crime Free Diamond Jubilee Street Party!’  I was concerned about people not known to you taking advantage of the open invitation to use the toilet facilities in your home to steal.  Well....
I’ve just heard from one of my wife’s clients that during their street party, somebody (unknown) went upstairs in one of the houses, entered an unlocked bedroom and stole £60 from a wallet lying on the dressing table. The theft wasn’t discovered until the following morning, which is not surprising. It was fortunate that other stuff wasn’t stolen, such as jewellery and bank cards, but it just goes to show that if there’s an opportunity and someone around who just can’t resist a temptation a crime is going to happen.
Maybe this incident should be the catalyst for us all to take some action and fit one of our bedroom doors with a mortice deadlock or sashlock.
This leads me to a related subject, which is home working, especially for those who have clients visiting their home on a regular basis.  Take my wife for example.  Before we had a downstairs WC clients would have to use the bathroom upstairs.  In the beginning this was clearly a bit risky, because we didn’t know these people.  So we used to lock the main bedroom door, so that the crown jewels were safe.  Having done this I discovered that several people I know have a lock on one or more of the bedrooms, but when asked why they did it, it was more to keep out the nosey baby sitter than anything else!
When I worked with ACPO Secured by Design (A police project which aims to design out crime opportunity from new homes) we introduced a requirement for a locked bedroom door to enable secure home working.  It seems to make sense to be able to lock the bedroom/office door when it’s not in use to protect confidential papers and commercial secrets and to protect personal data from prying eyes.
The one disadvantage with locking internal doors in an unoccupied house is that they can be kicked in by an intruder with little chance of the attack being heard resulting in a whole lot of damage.  So it’s always best to check your insurer’s requirements if you do work from home to make sure you’re covered.  In some circumstances, where a high level of security is required, it may be possible to reinforce the walls and install an enhanced security doorset.  People who do this are usually jewellers or others that periodically hold extremely valuable property at their home address.  In these circumstances they will of course have special insurance and will have increased the level of their home security to meet with the insurer’s requirements.      

And finally 

A free offer to Neighbourhood Watch Groups -by Ben

A great many of our followers and visitors are Neighbourhood Watch members and we know that many of the groups don’t have their own websites. At TCPW we have the ability to provide your watch with its own Forum, free of charge and completely under your control. This means that you can not only post news items and events, but discuss local issues with each other. All whilst having easy access to the largest crime prevention resource on the net.
The only thing we ask for is that you abide by the same terms and conditions as the open Forum. If you own a domain name (a .com) you can point it to your forum too! If this is something you might be interested in or you have any questions please get in touch with Ben using our contact form
PLEASE send a copy of this newsletter to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to visit The Crime Prevention Website and register for the Newsletter and don’t forget the all important linking to our site from yours.  Let’s make this site a permanent feature of the internet!
Keep ‘em peeled!
Calvin and Ben
PS  Did you know that Jack the Ripper and Winnie the Pooh have the same middle name?