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Newsletter Number 6
Celebrating our first birthday!
Dear Friend in Crime Prevention
Thank you for taking this sixth Newsletter from The Crime Prevention Website.
The 7th April 2013 is (was) very important for Ben and I, because it marks the first birthday of The Crime Prevention Website! As you have probably realised by now we’ve been operating this site pretty much as a hobby, with the idea that if it was successful we would think about running the operation full time; maybe as a not-for-profit. Well, the site is doing well and so it looks like we’ve got some important decisions to make later this year. Whatever those decisions might be, there is one thing for certain and that is that we're here to stay.
Free Prize Draw – Voucher worth £500 to be won!!
To help us celebrate our first birthday we are absolutely delighted to announce a most fantastic offer from our friends at TotalSafes.co.uk.
Total Safes has donated an unbelievably generous voucher worth up to £500 to be spent on any of their huge choice of safe products. The winner will be able to use the voucher quite flexibly to purchase a safe at around that value or use it towards a more expensive safe. It can also be used on a cheaper safe for themselves and the rest towards a second one for a family member – your choice entirely!
It’s not very often that this sort of offer comes along, and you can enter up to 4 times using any of the methods on our entry page. One of the methods of entry is to sign up for this newsletter, we are going to include existing subscribers in the draw as a thank you for the support you have given us – so there’s no need to subscribe again!
The closing date for the draw is Friday 31st May at 23:59 and the winner will be selected at random by an independent judge, you can read the full terms and conditions here.
We’ll email the winner within 7 days and once we’ve made contact we’ll announce the winner on the website and in Newsletter Number 7, which will be focussing on – guess what – safes!
So, please may we ask you to bring this draw to the attention of others and help the Crime Prevention Website to grow.
The Crime Prevention Website – how are we doing?
As of 5pm on 4th April 2013 we’d received 71,587 visits and had 173,704 page views. We have exceeded our April 2013 goal of 40K and 120K respectively by a big margin and so thank you for your support and promotion, which has helped this happen.
Links to the Crime Prevention Website
This website’s mission is to help people improve and manage their home and personal security and since more than 85% of the UK’s population are using the internet we are convinced that the main method of promoting crime prevention is through the internet. We know there are people that don’t have access to a computer and that’s where Neighbourhood Watches come into their own, because we know that many of you print out a few copies of our newsletter and hand them around to those that need them, so thank you for that.
In the last 2 months a further 16 websites have or are just about to link up and we must say that a few of them were a complete surprise. Referred visitors spend twice as long on the site and read twice as many pages than those who arrive by other means and just over 11% of our visitors are referred to us from other websites, so these links are very important to us.
Here’s our new links and Partners
Neighbourhood Watch and Community Sites
One of (there are a couple others) the most useful privately run community based websites for crime information I’ve come across so far in the UK is The Braintree Eye It’s just excellent and I would urge my Neighbourhood Watch partners to pay a visit to see the additional things you might want to add to your own sites. If you have the time do please read their Newsletter to understand the reasons behind its creation.
My (very much older) brother lives in Cheltenham and as I’m sure I must have bored him to death with my website mutterings it was great to link up with his own town’s watch association and tell him about it! So a big welcome to everyone at the Cheltenham Neighbourhood Watch Association and here’s to a long association.
I cracked open a bottle of Cava to celebrate the next link up to Hillingdon Neighbourhood Watch , because that’s where I live! Due to the fact that the Met police don’t currently link to any external websites it’s been a devil of a job trying to convince Watches across London to link up - a little ironic since I’m ex Met and still live in London! The link to Hillingdon Neighbourhood Watch marks our 37th link to a NHW or community website, but only the third link to a London website. However, a recent email from an influential Watch member in London seems promising, so watch this space.
Overall we’ve fallen short of our target of 40 links to NHW and Community sites by April 2013, which is of course a little disappointing. If you know of any Watches that have websites and would be interested to link up please let us know.
We picked up a surprising yet welcomed link from Somerset County Council’s Moving Forward initiative. They link to us for advice on bicycle security, some of which was provided to us by Central St Martins College in Kings Cross, an academic institution with whom I have enjoyed a long working relationship.
Last month I was approached by the Community Safety Officer for East Riding of Yorkshire Council , asking to link up and we’re just waiting now for the link to be embedded. About 5 years ago I spoke at a Dutch/English crime prevention conference, which was held during a cruise on the Hull to Rotterdam ferry - a bit different! There is actually a long history of crime prevention partnership working between the Dutch and British Police. They joke with us that they take our ideas and make them work better! (Paul van Soomeren, I hope you’re reading this!)
Companies and Consultant sites
It's MINE Technology are the new boys on the block providing RFID chips to protect your property. I like this company and it’s well worth visiting their website. Amongst many other clients they have a relationship with the Royal School of Music and provide chips to identify students’ musical instruments. If you’ve ever owned a musical instrument then you’ll know how costly they can be, so maybe you should think about making it identifiable back to you should the worst happen.
Vandgard - anti-climb fencing products linked up to us to provide their enquirers with some independent advice about fencing – brave people! As it happens they provide some excellent product and if you’re looking to improve your boundary security their site is worth a visit.
Jupiter 2000 Security and Fire Safety Consultants My old colleague, John Hills from Essex Police has recently linked up because he provides a private consultancy service for both security and fire risk. This is an unusual, but very sensible combination of skills, and if you’re after some specialist crime prevention advice for your home or business then John’s your man.
UPVC Multipoint Locks was a surprise referrer this week. The company specialise in, you’ve guessed it, multipoint locks and are based in Essex. If you need to upgrade/replace your multipoint lock or maybe upgrade your old cylinder for the new British Standard anti-bump type (which I thoroughly recommend) they can do this work for you.
Crime and Disorder Partnerships
The most recent link up has been with Safer West End Business Partnership. This organisation is the umbrella organisation which coordinates and administers the SaferSoho Business Partnership and the Covent Garden & Strand Business Partnership. The business crime reduction partnerships are a joint initiative with the local business community, the Metropolitan Police Service and Westminster City Council. They offer members the chance to help to reduce shoplifting, theft, alcohol related disorder and other anti-social behaviour that affects businesses. Their work obviously helps the many thousands of people who live in the area as well, hence my delight in our reciprocal link.
Associations and Institutes
I should have linked up to the Designing out Crime Association (DOCA) a while ago, but the old website was closed to members, so there wasn’t anything to learn from it. I’m a member of DOCA and a former Director and at their recent meeting they announced that they are to launch a brand new website. I’m hoping this one will be mostly open, so that even non-members can learn a little more about how the built environment can influence the crime opportunities that occur within it.
The National Institute of Crime Prevention and the Florida Design out Crime Association are both associated with my fellow colleague in crime prevention and former police officer, Art Hushen, whom I’ve known for quite few years. It’s good to see he’s still doing his bit for designing out crime in the US.
Forums and News mentions
It’s always interesting and encouraging to receive referrals from website forums, even though sometimes it’s impossible to back track the referral to the discussion that led to someone putting up the link up in the first place. This period we’ve had referrals from Hot UK Deals , ebuild.co.uk , and housepricecrash.co.uk
Police and Crime Commissioners
Completely out of the blue I started getting referrals from the website for The Office of Alan Charles, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire , which is great because penetration into Derbyshire has been a little slow. The PCC for Derbyshire is the seventh PCC to link up.
Other referring websites
Who Can You Trust is a not-for-profit community interest company based in Essex that has been set up with the sole aim of alerting and advising people in the 55+ age group about the need to be on their guard against internet scammers, doorstep rogues, fake lotteries, ATM fraudsters, rogue builders, dating tricksters and cheque overpayment fraud.
Peter Faulkner, a freelance newspaper editor, who owns and operates the website, also uses the pages to report on cowboy tradesmen, loan sharks, unqualified gas engineers, counterfeiters and anybody else who is out to rip us off. This is an excellent link up and I urge you to pay the site a visit.
Since the last Newsletter we’ve returned to Google ranked number 1 for ‘Crime Prevention’ and maintained this position. We’ve also attained the number 1 position for ‘Crime Prevention News’
Trying to get to page 1 for a search on the words ‘Home Security’ has been painfully slow. However since we launched we’ve climbed from page 26 to page 4, which is four pages better than 2 months ago, so we can’t complain too much.
Getting a high page ranking for searches is obviously extremely important for any website if you want people to find you. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as it’s known in the industry is a much specialised discipline and the best people who do this job get paid loads for getting their clients’ websites into the top positions. I don’t have any money to do this so we’ve got to rely on our own wits, which is why links to and from other websites are so important, along with good content, of course.
You probably won’t have noticed but I’m slowly going through the pages making some changes to the text and checking the links are still working. I fear this is going to be like the Forth Road Bridge, a never-ending task. Next month I’ll be revisiting my old haunts in London’s West End to take a load of photographs to update my paper entitled Crime Opportunity Profiling of Streets (COPS). COPS is a process of identifying features in the street that generate crime and anti-social behaviour. Police in London and elsewhere in the UK are still using my process, which makes me happy and I thought it was about time I updated the report – so watch this space.
The Home Security Survey – the results
As of 3rd April the Home Security Survey application on this site had been used 1,271 times, which gives an average use of about 3.5 times a day since launch. At the moment that average is up to about 4 times a day, but it isn’t as high as I would like it to be. I’m happy to wait, but for the findings to have any real meaning I would like to hit 2,000 completed surveys by June. So, in order to achieve this figure I’ll be doing a bit of a promo over the coming weeks, so don’t be surprised to see me repeatedly mentioning the application on the news pages.
As the weather is allegedly going to improve from next week onwards (according to the Met Office) and people will be brushing off their power tools and doing those security jobs they’ve been dying to do, now’s a good time for this free service to be publicised. So may I ask all my partnering Neighbourhood Watches to promote the survey please. It is free, of course, it’s a lot better than working your way through a basic check list and you do end up with a tailor-made report with links to other parts of the website for extra advice. Thank you in advance!
The Home Security Survey Top 10 Counties this issue
‘Hi Pop Pickers’...here’s the latest top ten list for the counties that have taken the most surveys
New in at number 1 is Buckinghamshire, with Berkshire dropping to second place for only the first time since we launched the website a year ago. Cumbria is still at number three, but ain’t moving at the moment. Surrey remains at number four but is closing up on Cumbria. New entry, Greater London, comes in at number five with Essex, Kent and new entry, Glamorgan, all tying for sixth place. In ninth place drops Lancashire accompanied by Gloucestershire which has dropped down to tenth.
Home Security Survey findings:
How well secured is the garden shed? 7th January 3rd April
Very well secured 13.9% 13.3%
Quite well secured 48.0% 47.7%
Not that well secured 38.1% 39.0%
The results of the Home Security Survey’s question about sheds are similar to the last time I looked at them except the ‘Not that well secured’ category is still creeping up and now stands at a fraction over 39%. I suspect this figure is going to settle around 40% by the time we’ve hit the 2,000 surveys I want completed.
As lots of us will be getting out into the garden again very soon (hopefully) perhaps we can once again impress upon people we talk to about the importance of securing the shed. Forty insecure sheds out of every hundred is not good at all. OK, some may think that there is nothing in the shed worth stealing, but think again because car boot sales create a ready market for shed contents and the tools can be used to break into yours or maybe even your neighbour’s home.
And while you’re out in the garden some of you might want to check on the access opportunity from the end of the back garden, because 39.5% of houses and bungalows surveyed so far have either a road, a railway line, an alleyway or other open land adjoining the rear fence or wall.
Of these, 42.4% of respondents said they have an alleyway, of which 78% are ungated – Crikey! Maybe this is the year to get together with your neighbours to fund a gating project to prevent rear accessed burglary. Follow this link to find out more about Alleygating
Crime in the news
Here follows my most read news items during this period. Please feel free to copy and paste our news items into your newsletters as you see fit, but do show the origin of the story, which may be someone or something other than the Crime Prevention Website.
Most read this period
Security Reminder from West Mercia Police after Sneak-In Burglary
This story concerns a consistent problem with multipoint locking doorsets. It’s not the multipoint lock that’s the problem it’s a minority of people who use them! A few people seem to forget that they need to be locked at night by lifting the handle and turning the key in the lock. It doesn’t matter if the outside handle operates the latch or not, because the latch or ‘live’ bolt is simply there to keep the door closed – not securely locked. Because thieves know that people forget to engage the locks at night they will wonder around an estate late at night trying front door handles. Every once in a while they’ll find one left open and just walk in and steal. If the door is only held on the latch then a little levering with a screwdriver soon opens the door – silently.
I feel so strongly about this problem that I’ve made it the feature of my Crime prevention products section this month
Seven vehicles damaged overnight in Leominster
My in-laws’ home town was in the news recently after at least 7 vehicles had their side windows smashed late at night by some vindictive yob(s). This incident does remind us how vulnerable our cars are and why we shouldn’t leave things on view in them.
Gossiping women to prevent crime in Kuala Lumpur!
This was the latest story in my ‘you couldn’t make it up’ category and demonstrates attitudes, which whilst we might regard as almost alien, are alive and well in other parts of the world. Can you imagine a Chief Constable in the UK saying these words! (OK, maybe one or two J)
Targets are still a problem for the police
Most read this period was this article from Publicservice.co.uk kindly sent to me by our friends in Thames Valley Police. The article features Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, newly elected President of the Superintendent’s Association of England and Wales, arguing against target setting by police management. I added a few comments of my own, largely agreeing with the Superintendent’s, which generated a few emails
Most Tweeted news stories from 7th April 2012 to 3rd April 2013
It’s interesting to note that the most re-tweeted story of the past year was the one about Government guidance for dealing with anti-social neighbours. Quite obviously there are a lot of them!
26 Feb 2013 New Website in Essex – The Braintree Eye
4 May 2012 Warning on scam calls
Crime prevention products
Rather than write about a specific product this month I thought it would be useful to provide a short guide for the correct locking of a multipoint locking doorset, with pictures. I’m doing this because unlocked or insufficiently locked multipoint locking doors have been in the news far too much in recent weeks and a great many of unnecessary burglaries are taking place because of it.
Split Spindle outside handle
So, here’s my front door. It’s a composite doorset with fibreglass facings and is fitted with three hook bolts. It has a split spindle door handle operation, which means that the outside handle is only used to engage the hook bolts and is detached from the latching bolt, which is the brass coloured thing you can see in the bottom middle of this picture. The door is certificated to PAS 24: 2007 +A2: 2011 – doors of enhanced security (Now PAS 24 2012). If you walk out of my door and simply pull it closed behind you you’ll need the key to get back in.
Solid Spindle outside handle
Around half of multipoint locked doors have a solid spindle operation on the outside handle. This means that the handle does operate the latching bolt and therefore when the door is closed and the hook bolts have not been engaged and locked off with the key someone can walk up to the door, push the handle down and open the door. If you walk out of this sort of door and simply pull it closed behind you will not need the key to get back in. Doors with solid spindles are often found in blocks of flats so that those in the flat don’t accidentally lock themselves out, which is a particular problem if you live above the ground floor.
It is also important to point out that my door’s lock cylinder is Kitemarked. This means it’s been independently certificated as being resistant to several forms of attack, including lock bumping. Lock bumping involves the use of a special cut down key, some dexterity and a little tapping of the key. You can read more about cylinder attacks and why you should upgrade your lock cylinders on the website at this link: Replacing lock cylinders – important please read.
In addition to having a secure cylinder the door’s handle assembly has been strengthened to resist attempts to peel it back to get at the cylinder and snap it off.
So, if you’re thinking of replacing your doors then please pay the extra and get doors certificated to PAS 24 2012, which automatically come with these additional security features.
So let’s go through the process in six easy stages of locking a multipoint locking door:
|Step 1 Close the door!||Step 2 Lift the handle|
|Step 3 Turn the key||Step 4 Remove the key|
|Step 5 Walk away||Step 6 Put key out of sight*|
When the door is closed and you lift up the handle the hook bolts are thrown into their keeps in the doorframe. By turning the key in the cylinder, whether from the inside or the outside, you are locking those hook bolts into position If you don’t key lock the bolts in place they can be disengaged by simply pressing down the outside or inside handles.
Once the door has been properly locked – especially if it’s a PAS 24 type, it will take an enormous amount of time and effort – and damage – to overcome it. This is evidenced by the fact that police services have had to develop special methods and equipment to force PAS 24 doorsets and they still often fail to get in. Instead they’ll go through windows or use other (I can’t tell you what they are) methods to affect an entry.
If you live in a block of flats your lock may have a thumbturn on the inside of the door in place of a keyhole. This is because you may need to use this door to get out in an emergency and this prevents you from locking yourself in. Do make sure that a person on the outside of the door can’t access the thumbturn through a letterplate. If they can there are things you can do to prevent it and you should follow this link to find out what Letter plates (letter boxes) and mail delivery.
It’s also worth pointing out that the hinges on a PAS 24 doorset are substantial as well. This picture just shows one of the three on my door. They are a vital security component of a doorset and work in conjunction with the hook bolts to keep the intruders out.
So, that’s my little guide to securing a multipoint locking door and I would request that my neighbourhood watch followers use this information in their next newsletters, so we can keep spreading the word.
I might add that I’ve only covered the most common type of multipoint locking system as there is the odd hybrid, including one lock that automatically engages and locks the hook bolts on closing the door.
*Should it be required in an emergency, make sure the key is left in a place where it can be easily found by all persons in the household.
Rather than end this Newsletter with a joke I thought I would gift my most favourite curry recipe to you to celebrate our first year of operation. With that in mind I have renamed it Calvin’s Crime Prevention Butter Chicken!!
Those of you who are as keen as curry might want to prepare a little for your next Neighbourhood Watch meeting. It always goes down well and I used to find that it served as a good encouragement for people to come along! I eat mine with a little real ale – preferably a decent India Pale Ale
Calvin’s Crime Prevention Butter Chicken
(no need to marinade, but you can if you want to)
Ingredients for 4, maybe 5 hungry people
- 100g Unsalted Butter or preferably Ghee (available in tins in most supermarkets)
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 2 medium Onions or one huge one – finely chopped
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 2cm cube of Ginger – grated
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 2 tsp Coriander – ground
- 1 tsp Chilli powder
- 1 tsp black Cumin seeds*
- 1 tsp fresh Garlic – minced
- 1 tsp Salt
- 6 whole green Cardamom pods – split and use the seeds only
- 6 whole black Peppercorns
- 300ml Natural Yoghurt**
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- Enough Chicken breast/thigh meat for 4 people – off the bone
- 100ml Water
- 2 whole Bay leaves
- 150g single Cream (optional)***
- Handful of fresh Coriander leaves – finely chopped
- Fresh Chillies (optional)
Put the following into a large bowl and mix together:
- Garam Masala
- Ground Coriander
- Chilli powder
- Cumin seeds
- Cardamom seeds
- Then add the Yoghurt and Tomato puree and mix it all well.
Cut up the Chicken into bite size pieces and stir into the ‘marinade’ mixture – set aside
Heat Butter/Ghee and Oil in deep non-stick frying pan or pot. Throw in the Cinnamon sticks and Onions and fry the Onion until brown. Remove the Cinnamon sticks and discard.
Add the Chicken pieces and every last drop of marinade into the pan and fry vigorously for 7 minutes or so
Add the water and Bay leaves, cover and simmer on a very low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the cream (if using) and bring the heat back up and cook for further 5 minutes
Finally throw a good handful of chopped Coriander leaves on top (and fresh Chillies if using) and serve immediately
Serve with Mushroom Basmati Rice and Homemade Paratha and cool India Pale Ale (IPA)
*Although not quite the same you can use normal Cumin seeds that have been dry fried to a dark colour
**I use full fat Greek Yoghurt. If you use low fat then the resultant sauce will be lighter/runnier.
***I don’t use cream and instead I use 300ml Natural Yogurt and 100ml+ Water, which my family prefers. We end up with less sauce
If you are going to use the cream then change the dairy and water measures as follows:
- 150ml Natural Yoghurt
- 150ml Water
- 150ml Single Cream
These dairy measures above are from the original recipe I found on-line, but we found the ‘sauce’ to be too thin. The rule here is to play around with the liquid quantities, not adding too much at the beginning, because you can always top up later. Some people like a thin ‘gravy’ type sauce whilst others like it thick; it’s your choice.
You can also muck around with the various spice quantities to suit your own taste, which is the beauty of curry, of course.
This is very fattening and almost no doctor would approve!