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Home Secretary leads new burglary crackdown

Home Secretary leads new burglary crackdown

HOME OFFICE News Release (016/2009) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 4 February 2009

Representatives from charities, public and private sector organisations including the police, Association of British Insurers, Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau and Norwich Union today met with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith at a special crime prevention summit to discuss practical measures to help keep crime down.

Today's summit is part of a series of initiatives to help increase people's personal security, particularly those who feel the most vulnerable in society, and help the public to avoid becoming victims of opportunistic criminals.

They include:

* a new £20 million fund for local crime prevention initiatives and targeted support to homes and businesses - including measures to strengthen home security, focused on the 14 per cent of homes that still don't have window locks and the 18 per cent that don't have adequate front doors;

* new home security pages on the Home Office website which will offer a single source of information and advice on home security - http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/secureyourhome;

* the web pages will include a new online personalised home security self assessment, 'How secure is your home?', that allows people to grade the security of their home in a few minutes. It then provides simple advice about how they can improve it and who they can contact for help; and

* a new nationwide £1.6 million crime prevention marketing campaign using broadcast radio and print media to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

"Burglary has more than halved in the last ten years and I am determined to stay on the front foot. Previous downturns have seen increases in acquisitive crimes but I do not accept this is inevitable. The police are better equipped than ever before to meet the current challenges but we all have a role to play in presenting a united front. There will be a small minority of criminals who think they can take advantage in tough times. Let me tell them now, they can't and they won't get away with it.

"That is why I have today called together a wide range of organisations to see what more we can do to assist those without adequate security. I'm interested in exploring new and innovative ways of getting information about home security to the public such as whether DIY stores can offer advice on crime prevention or charities can provide practical crime prevention help to vulnerable people.

"Neighbourhood policing teams already play a vital role in helping people feel safer and I want to see them supporting people to get the advice and reassurance they need. We are also providing common sense practical advice and support for people. There are very simple things you can do to stay safe, such as having and using good door and window locks. I want to make sure that it is clear who you would go to for advice and help.

"This will be backed by a new £20 million fund dedicated to offer practical support to people and a new £1.6 million crime prevention marketing campaign that will begin this month."

Graeme Gerrard, Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on burglary, said:

"The police service nationwide is in a strong position to meet changing challenges posed by criminality, with better use of forensics, stronger management of offenders and neighbourhood policing teams in every locality providing a visible and responsive intelligence and operational capacity that adds to our armoury. While the economic recession may impact on trends in crime, some forces continue to show a decline in burglaries and there is plenty that householders can do to protect against becoming a victim themselves. It is particularly striking that 36 per cent of burglaries result from insecure premises, with recent figures from the British Crime Survey showing that 18 per cent of homes don't have proper door locks and 14 per cent of homes don't have proper window locks."

Bill Grimsey, CEO of Focus DIY, said:

"We are very supportive of any initiatives by the Home Office to help keep crime down and will cooperate with local crime prevention officers to avoid an increase in acquisitive crimes.

"We are determined to provide the right products and advice to our customers and local communities to help them to protect their homes and belongings."

The Home Secretary cited innovative crime prevention initiatives like Norwich Union and Norfolk Police's joint Safer Street campaign - where a typical row of terraced homes in Norwich city centre were given a basic security makeover.

Simon Warsop, Director of home pricing at Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva, said:

"We wanted to show the simple inexpensive steps homeowners can take to help reduce their risks of crime. Not only did our initiative make the residents feel more secure it has a promoted a renewed feeling of community spirit in the area - which is key when it comes to fighting crime.

"We are pleased to have the chance to be working with the Home Office on an issue that is obviously of great concern to home owners across the UK.

"The more we can all do to raise awareness of home security and the simple measures we can all take to prevent us becoming victims of crime, the better."

Today's meeting follows the Home Secretary's pledge last month to make it as easy as possible for anyone who is concerned about becoming a victim of crime to get the help they need from the appropriate authorities.


1. The interactive home security assessment tool is available on the Home Office's website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/secureyourhome/questionnaire/.

2. The summit was attended by:

Home Secretary
      Alan Campbell            Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for
                               Crime Reduction
      Vic Hogg                 Acting Director General, Crime Reduction
                               and Community Safety Group
      Louise Casey             Director General, Neighbourhood Crime and
                               Justice Group
      Vanessa Nicholls         Director, Crime Directorate
      Julian Corner            Head of Crime Strategy Unit
      Elspeth Bracken          Crime Strategy Unit
      Helena Herklots          Age Concern
      Wes Streeting            National Union of Students
      Graham Duxbury           Groundwork
      Ben Hughes               British Association of Settlements and
                               Social Action Centres
      Gillian Guy              Victim Support
      Marion Lewis             Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network
      Mick Laurie              Crimestoppers
      John McBride             British Transport Police
      Richard Kemp             Local Government Association
      Professor Gloria Laycock UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science
      Stephen Haddrill         Association of British Insurers
      Alan Ward                Residential Landlords Association
      Dave Princep             Residential Landlords Association
      Jon France               B&Q
      David Finch              Travis Perkins
      Bill Grimsey             Focus (DIY) Ltd
      Yvonne Rawley            Water UK
      Dr Garry Felgate         Energy Retail Association
      Mark Goldring            Mencap
      Sarah Haddon             Suzy Lamplugh Trust
      Graham Whitham           Foundations
      Maureen Noble            Manchester City Council
      Steve Turek              London Fire & Rescue Service
      Graeme Gerrard           Association of Chief Police Officers
      Alex Loughran            Crime Watch UK
      Simon Warsop             Aviva
      Steve Mortimore          National Policing Improvement Agency
      Eamonn Boylan            Home & Communities Agency
      Peter Lambert            Business in the Community
      Graham Beech             Catch 22
      Nicola Bulbeck           Society of Local Authority Chief Executives
      Kevin Brady              Society of Local Authority Chief Executives
      Peter Staddon            British Insurance Brokers Association
      David Evans              British Security Industry Association 

3. Information on the Norwich Union/Aviva joint project with neighbourhood police teams in Norwich can be found at http://www.norwichunion.com/saferstreet/.

4. The National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) was set up in 2007 and is jointly chaired by Home Office Minister Alan Campbell and Stephen Robertson, Director-General, British Retail Consortium (BRC). Members of the group include attended representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses, Association of Convenience Stores, Association of Chief Police Officers, Tesco, John Lewis and the British Retail Consortium.

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