The Crime Prevention Website


Wednesday 22 nd August 2012

Newsletter Number 2

Dear Friend in Crime Prevention

Thank you for taking this second Newsletter from The Crime Prevention Website.

It’s been a hectic 7 weeks since our first Newsletter was issued (hence the slight delay) and we hope you’ll find the content useful.

If your mates, colleagues, family members and acquaintances would like to receive the Newsletter hot off the press then please ask them to sign up for it at this link.

The Crime Prevention Website – how are we doing?

We’re about 4 months on from launch and the site’s penetration into the ether of the internet is moving with some pace.  Thus far we’ve had 14,000 visits and nearly 50,000 page views.  We have reciprocal links to about 45 other websites – we say ‘about’, because we’re getting new links all the time.  It’s interesting to note that people who come to us as referrals from our partner sites spend on average 8 minutes per visit, which for us is confirmation that our site advice is useful to them. 

After a great deal of hard work we seem to be maintaining a page 1 Google ranking for the words ‘crime prevention’ and now we’ve just started some further work to better our ranking for the words ‘home security’, as we’re hovering between pages 20 and 27. Oddly though, the same is not true for ‘DIY Home Security’ and Home Security Survey’, where we rank pages 2 and 1 respectively – strange thing search engines!  

Links to The Crime Prevention Website  

It’s been a really good few weeks for new links.  Since the last Newsletter was published we have the following reciprocal links in place: 

Essex Police – Be Safe pages
Avon and Somerset Constabulary Information Centre
Hertfordshire Constabulary – Intranet link 

Neighbourhood Watch and Community Sites
Ascot Community Website Berkshire
Upper Perrancoombe Community and NHW site near Perranporth Cornwall
North Corner Neighbourhood Watch  North Yorkshire
Christchurch Borough Home Watch Association  Dorset
The Valleys and Vale Neighbourhood Watch Association  Stroud Gloucestershire
Mill Street Residents Association  Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Berkshire
The Bristol NHW Network  supporting Neighbourhood Watch in the City and County of Bristol.
Oxford Road Area Neighbourhood Watch   Canterbury Kent
Canterbury and District Neighbourhood Watch Association Kent
Parish of Walmer A Community site in Kent
Town of Deal  A Community site in Kent
Amersham News, Views and Information   News Buckinghamshire 

Local Authorities
Slough Borough Council Berkshire  Crime Prevention pages  
Southend Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership   

BBC Radio 4 ‘You and Yours
International CPTED Association  

Linking between websites is really important, not just for generating visitor traffic, but also to share experience and knowledge between different communities.  Since our last newsletter, Bingham Neighbourhood Watch (which got a mention last time around) has now sent over a record number of referrals for a Neighbourhood Watch group, so thank you very much!  We’re so pleased with the interaction and the excellent information that can be found on these sites that we’ve set up a new Partners Page to highlight our partnering sites (see below) 

For links to work they need to be prominent and on a relevant page, and at least no more than one or two clicks from the home page.  It’s easy to link to us, just visit our  link page  to see how and thank you for helping to make this website successful. 

Website Updates 

Two new pages have been added to the site: 

The Partners Page 

This page has been created to publicise the growing number of websites that are now linking to us. They range from Neighbourhood Watch and Community sites through to Local Authority and Police Service sites. The common factor that links us all, of course, is to do everything we can to prevent and reduce crime.  For a bit of fun and to show our appreciation we’re awarding medals which relate to the number of referrals we receive from each of them. 

And by the way... Seventeen per cent of our visitors come from outside the UK, mainly the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.  These visitors spend just as much time on the site as UK visitors so it’s good to know that the advice is helpful no matter where in the world you come from! 

No Cold Calling Zones and Doorstep Selling 

Under the Personal Security tab we’ve added this new page of advice relating to doorstep selling.  This is an extension to Bogus callers (Distraction burglary) , which was lacking some detail regarding consumer rights and also measures that can be taken to control rogue traders in some council areas. 

The day I added the information coincided with a post on The Crime Prevention Website’s Facebook page by Graham Houghton, one of our long term supporters, concerning some dreadful incidents taking place in North Worcestershire where fraudsters have been conning elderly victims out of their life savings. The post rightly reminds us all to keep an eye out for our more vulnerable friends and neighbours. 

The Home Security Survey – the results 

Completed survey results are continuing to come in at a steady rate and Ben is now adding some further programming to establish average scores for each of the eight types of premises which the survey covers.  The overall average is almost 62/100, so if you’re scoring below that then some improvements to your home security are most definitely required!  

This time I’ve taken a look at the questions we ask about various kinds of access.  The findings may be useful to use for your own Neighbourhood Watch or Community Newsletters/Websites -please reference The Crime Prevention Website as the source – thanks. 

Open Side Access 

When respondents were asked if it was possible to simply walk down the side of their dwelling from the front of the house 54% answered “yes”.  And of those that have a side access availability two thirds of respondents said that it would be easy to get into the back garden.  Extrapolating these figures suggest that just over a third of us have vulnerable side access problems that we might want to look at.  There’s lots of guidance available on this website about side access issues and here’s the link to the introductory page Access Opportunity and Alleyway Gating

Alleyways, ‘Snicketts’, ‘Ginnells’, ‘Lanes’, ‘Passages’ etc.. 

Some of my former police colleagues may recall that I developed the first ever Alleyway Gating initiative when I worked in Ealing Police Division back in the early 1990s. For nostalgia’s sake you can now download of copy of this original guide from TCPW and the updated version, which I wrote with my friend and colleague Patrick Cogan.  Although a little dated now they are still useful and sometime later this year I should have finished the all new version for the website.

As you can imagine, I’ve always held a deep interest in people’s back passages (!) and their endeavours to close off these dreadful crime generators. Consequently I made sure that the Home Security Survey asked a few questions about vulnerable access points into the rear garden. 

These are the results so far... 

Forty two per cent of respondents state that their homes have rear garden boundary fences that back onto a road, a railway line, an alleyway or other open land. Of these 34% have boundaries bordering alleyways, of which 19% have been gated to prevent access to all but the local residents. 

So, it seems that four out of every five alleyways remain ungated and therefore available to the criminal. It is accepted that some of these open alleyways may be ‘public rights of way’ which cannot be gated, or are at least more difficult to gate and that some of them have not been generating problems great enough to warrant the expense of gating them, but I do still think there is plenty of mileage left for this 20 year old initiative, especially since the rewards are so high.  Research conducted by Doctor Rachel Armitage just a few years ago suggested that alleyway gating initiatives reduce burglary by around 50% and I know that some of the schemes I worked on in Ealing back in the early 1990s were reducing burglary by as much as 85%.

For further information about ‘Alleygating’ please follow this link

Fence climbing  

With this series of questions I wanted to find out more about what people thought about the effectiveness of their fences to keep out garden thieves and burglars.  There is no doubt that a decent perimeter fence with some luscious thorny plants growing along the top will deter thieves and likewise an unstable (but well fixed) trellis topping will add to the difficulty, but what about fences between neighbouring gardens?  Are they as secure?  The answer to this it seems is “no, not quite”.

How much effort would be required to climb over the rear fence or wall into the back garden?
Very little effort                      19%
Some effort                            50%
A lot of effort                          31% 

How much effort would be required for an intruder to climb over or through the side boundary from a neighbour’s garden?
Very little effort                      26%
Some effort                           50%
A lot of effort                         24% 

This finding is not really surprising, but should we be concerned about it?  Well, I think it rather depends on where your garden is located in respect to the nearest public space.  If, for example, you live in a mid terrace house with say five or six neighbours either side and the rear alleyway (If you have one) is gated, then quite obviously your risks of access into the rear garden are extremely low. However, if your property has only one neighbouring garden, which sides onto a public road, then the risks are considerably higher, especially if the neighbour hasn’t done a great deal to their own perimeter fence or wall. 

Next year I intend to create a supplementary questionnaire to ask more in-depth questions about fences and walls so we can find out what people are doing to prevent climbing.  I haven’t done this so far, because the Home Security Survey would have become tediously long and there was a concern that fewer of them would have been completed. 

Finally, we asked this question: 

How likely is it that an intruder could climb over the garage into the rear garden?
Likely                                 19%
Unlikely                              34%
Most unlikely                      47% 

Although climbing over the roof of the side garage to get into the garden does happen, this MO usually requires access to a climbing aid, such as water butt or a wheelie bin that’s been left out.  In addition, this rather risky way of breaking in normally requires the front of the house to be obscured by high hedges and trees or an absence of overlooking properties. 

The Crime Prevention Website has lots of advice for improving the security of your boundary fences starting at Garden Boundaries and Fences

Crime in the news 

We’ve posted quite a lot of news items onto our news blog these past few weeks and rather than regurgitate the detail again in this Newsletter I’ve provided the headlines and links and a few additional comments to the most read (in case you’ve missed them). 

Swift and Sure Justice: The UK Government’s Plans for Reform of the Criminal Justice System
This item was posted, because the Government are asking for your comment about their White Paper to reform the criminal justice system in England and Wales 

Private wheel clamping to be banned from 1st October 2012
I think this item speaks for itself! 

Crime in England and Wales: Quarterly First Release to March 2012
Most crime categories are continuing to fall, which is great news, but there are a few exceptions, such as  ‘theft of unattended property’, ‘theft from the person’, ‘bicycle theft’ and ‘shoplifting’ which, combined, have increased by about 2% on last year.  Of course, there will still be hotspots around the UK where crime levels are going in the wrong direction, so we should not be letting our guards down.

Holiday Security Checklist just a click away
We’re really pleased with the numbers of downloads of our holiday security checklist and three people have asked me if I can provide a packing list to go with it!!! – I’m thinking about! 

MORE TH>N Insurers publish garden security study
This MORE TH>N report on garden crime, which indicates that 1 in 5 of us have suffered a theft from the garden this year, should concern us all, because it’s one of the few crimes that the Crime Survey for England and Wales tells us has been increasing year on year since 2006. 

BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours to interview Calvin from The Crime Prevention Website
I was invited to talk about garden crime on Radio 4’s You and Yours program last month, but due to a technical problem with earlier recorded interviews for the segment my ‘live’ interview got cut short.  A shame, but they’re going to invite me back sometime and they’ve linked to us! 

New Government guidance for dealing with anti social neighbours in private housing
This news item has been the most viewed in the past six weeks by far and clearly shows that there must be a lot of us living next door to the neighbours from hell!

The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill
This is really important new legislation that will come on line sometime in 2013.  Anything we can do to frustrate the rogue scrap metals dealers who accept stolen ‘scrap’ metal the better.  But why does a new law, so urgently required, take so long to come into being?

Police Service Strength – the facts
This was the second most visited news item; showing concern about possible (some are saying inevitable) police service staff reductions.  I’m thinking of the Metropolitan Police in particular about the rumours of redundancies after the Olympics.  I’m sure the Chief Constables and Commissioners are doing their level best to reduce the impact of these staff losses, but it would be folly to suggest that the cuts will happen without consequences.  Fortunately the cuts have and will be cushioned by falling crime levels (somewhat unexpected during a recession), so let’s just hope that the impact will be minimal.   

Crime prevention products 

As I’ve been focusing on perimeter security in this Newsletter I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some alternative products with some anti-climbing properties.  The product shown below is called ‘Prikka-Strip’ and is manufactured by London & Lancashire Rubber Co Ltd.

The product, which is made from polypropylene, comprises a series of short spikes that are painful if held onto or climbed upon.  They come in a variety of colours and dimensions to suit different fence panels, walls and gates and are supplied with a warning sign that is intended to limit your liability in respect to the Occupier’s Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984, although you will definitely need to purchase additional warning signs to place on either side of the fence panel. My neighbour’s got some on his back fence to stop the cats climbing over and it seems to work!

Jacksons Fencing, who advertise on this website, have their own version of this fence topping called a ‘Security Comb’.  Jacksons also point out the need to install the product with warning signs and also recommend that it is not used at heights lower than 2 metres. You may also need planning permission. 

Although I do not have any evidence that proves their deterrent value (just like the purse bells I wrote about in Newsletter 1) I’m sure they will put off many opportunist thieves who won’t come prepared with a heavy coat to throw over the top.  I also like the visual deterrent qualities; they look nasty even though they’ve been designed more to be uncomfortable than injurious. 

So, if you’ve got some fencing that’s 2 metres or more in height (preferably 2.4m+) and you want to add something to aggravate climbing, these products may be for you, but please do take a look at The UK Law concerning Fences, Walls and Gates before purchasing .  Both these products must be installed so that they are visible from both sides of the fence, wall or gate.  Do not set ‘man-traps’.

Down my way

Unregistered Scrap Dealers 

This is the spot where I talk about the crimes that have been going on ‘down my way’; often reported to my wife, who’s a ‘work from home’ beautician and consequently gets to hear about lots of the ‘goings-on’ in our part of West London.  Well, happily things have been fairly quiet on the crime front in my area, except for one small matter, which is the collection of scrap metal. 

For many years we’ve enjoyed the benefit of a regular ‘rag and bone’ man operating in the area. He actually shouts ‘rag and bone’ (or something like that) and rings a hand bell.  He comes round about once every two weeks and we’re glad to give him what scrap we might have.  Importantly he’s registered with the Local Authority (under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964). 

Unfortunately, some of my neighbours have got into an unfortunate habit of deliberately leaving old washing machines and tumble driers and so on out the front of their houses late a night to be picked up ‘more conveniently’ by the unregistered dealers who travel the streets at night.  Whilst this more convenient service might be appreciated, because it saves people from storing the old machine for maybe a couple of weeks or taking it to the recycling centre, our local police have asked us not to do it, because the unregistered dealers are also taking stuff not intended for them, i.e. thieving! 

There is no doubt that the same situation exists all over the UK and so we’ll all be doing our neighbourhoods a favour if we use the regular registered dealer every time. 

And finally... 

I’ve just come across this very short TED TALK (posted this month) by Hannah Fry from University College London entitled ‘Is Life Really That Complex?’  It touches on last year’s riots and some work that her university is doing with West Midlands Police.  It’s only 9 minutes, so worth watching over a coffee. 

Did you know that Jack the Kipper was the serial killing fish? 

“Keep ‘em peeled” 

Calvin and Ben