Keeping Safe - Crime Prevention Advices
Welcome to our Keeping Safe - Crime Prevention Advices page!
The site contains comprehensive and up-to-date crime prevention advice to help you improve your personal and home security.
Choose from the categories below your specific interest.
Unfortunately far too many householders have to experience the loss and distress of being burgled. This website provides simple and effective advice on home security to help you protect your home and your peace of mind.
Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves, so with a few simple measures you can help deter thieves from targeting your home.
The first thing a burglar wants to know is whether there is anyone in. You can make it more difficult for a burglar by:
- leaving lights and/or a radio on while you are out and using a timer switch if you are away for a few days
- opening your curtains and taking in newspapers, post and milk
- asking your neighbours or a friend to keep an eye on your home if you are going away - perhaps they could come and draw the curtains for you and collect your post, as this will help to make your house look lived in - you can then do the same for them while they are away
- don't forget to cancel your newspapers and milk while you are away
- don't leave valuable items in view while you are out.
Around the House
A third of burglars get in through a back window. Visible locks may deter some thieves as it means they have to break the glass and risk attracting attention. You can help keep out thieves by:
- fitting key operated window locks to all downstairs windows and easily accessible upstairs windows, such as those above a flat roof or a drainpipe
- gluing in slats in louvre windows so that they cannot be removed easily
- if you are replacing windows consider laminated glass.
If your doors are not secure then neither is your home. Secure your doors by:
- fitting a good lock to all your doors - a five lever mortice lock is recommended
- patio doors should have special locks fitted to the top and bottom (ask for advice at your local DIY store)
- glass panels on doors are particularly vulnerable and should be replaced with laminated glass
- make sure doors and frames are in good and strong condition
- if you are thinking of buying PVC or metal framed doors/windows, make sure they come with good built in locks and fitted chain, as these can be expensive to add afterwards.
Visible burglar alarms make burglars think twice. Get specialist advice and consult your insurance company to see what they recommend.
Be Aware of Fire Risks
As with all security measures, consideration must be given to the risk of fire and means of escape. Fit a smoke detector and contact your local fire brigade for advice. If you have laminate glass on any windows and doors then remember that you will not be able to break it if you need to escape your house in an emergency and you will therefore need to make sure you have another means of exit.
Don't forget to secure the outside of your home:
- fit a strong lockable gate across side passages
- never leave a garage or shed unlocked
- keep expensive garden equipment locked in a shed overnight and when you are away
- keep ladders locked up so thieves cant use them to gain access to your house
- you may want to secure expensive garden plants while you are away.
Good lighting can deter a thief. Security lights which use infra red sensors and come on when movement is detected are recommended. However, any outside light that you can leave on while you are out will help. If you already have existing outside lighting you can buy sensors to convert them into a security light.
- never leave spare key in a hiding place as thieves will know where to look
- if you've recently moved into your house you may want to consider changing the door locks as other people may have keys that fit.
Is Your Property Security Marked?
Security marking valuable items of property will discourage from stealing them by making it difficult to sell them on. It will also help the police to trace you as the owner of your property.
You should mark your property with your postcode and the number and/or name of your house.
You can security mark your property in a number of ways:
- Permanent marking - using an engraving tool and a stencil to mark your code on the property you want to protect.
- Invisible marking - write your code on property using an ultra violet (UV) pen (available at the Civic Centre). This mark can only be seen by using a special lamp and fades over a time so you should refresh your marking every six months.
- Photographs - some items, such as jewellery and antiques may not be suitable for marking. Therefore it is good idea to take photos of items and keep them safe with a record of any serial numbers or markings. if your property is stolen this information will help the police to recover your items.
To deter burglars you can obtain window stickers from the police or your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme, which say that you have security marked your property.
In addition to making your home more secure you can also help to make your street or community a safer place for everyone who lives there by joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Neighbourhood Watch scheme is about people working together to make their communities safer and friendlier places to live and work. The aim of Neighbourhood Watch is to help people protect themselves and their properties, reduce the fear of crime and improve their local environment. Contact our Crime Reduction Co-ordinator to find out if your area has a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
The chance that you or a member of your family will be a victim of violent crime is low. However, many people are still frightened that they, or someone close to them, will be the victim of violent attack.
There are sensible precautions you can take to cut the risk of attack. This website provides simple and effective advice for both men and women, which can help you stay safe.
- make sure your home is secure
- if you are moving don't show tenants or buyers around the house on your own
- draw your curtains after dark
- if you see signs of a break in at home, don't go in, the intruder may still be there - go to a neighbour's and call the police
Out and about
if you are often out and about on your own or in the dark then there are lots of simple precautions you can take to keep yourself safe:
- Carry a personal attack alarm. These are available to buy from the Civic Centre and Thorpe Astley Community Centre (£5.00 each) as well as from DIY stores and often from local police. It is a good idea to carry the alarm in your hand so you can use it immediately to scare off an attacker.
- If you are carrying a bag, keep it close to you with clasps and zips inwards.
- Keep house keys in your pocket so that if your bag is stolen, a thief won't have your house keys and your address.
- If you think somebody may be following you, check by crossing the street once or twice to see if they follow you. If it seems that they are, or you are still worried then go to the nearest place with people, such as a pub or shop and call the police. Avoid using a phonebox in the street as an attacker may try and trap you inside.
- If you follow the same route regularly then it is good idea to change your route from time to time
- Always stick to well lit areas
- On parks and commons keep to the main paths and open spaces - avoid wooded areas
- If you are wearing a personal stereo remember that you cannot hear traffic or somebody approaching behind you
- Don't take short cuts through dark alleys
- Walk facing the traffic so a car can't pull up behind you
- Don't hitch hike or take lifts from strangers
- Cover up expensive looking jewellery and keep mobile phones and wallets/purses hidden away.
- At cash machines don't let anyone see your PIN
Staying safe in taxis
- If you are going to be out late, try to arrange a lift home or book a taxi through a registered company
- Check that the taxi that arrives is the one that you ordered
- When you get home a taxi driver can help you by waiting until you are safely inside before he drives off
- Do not hail minicabs from the street or use taxis that are touting for trade - this is not only illegal, but you also have no guarantee that the driver is licensed
- Do not sit in the front seat of the taxi - always sit in the back
- If you feel uneasy, ask to be let out in a well-lit area where there are plenty of people
- If in any doubt, don't get in a taxi.
- Try to stay away from isolated bus stops, especially after dark
- On an empty bus, sit near the driver or conductor
- On a train sit in a compartment with lots of other people and check to see where the emergency chain is.
Mobile phone theft
Mobile phone theft is on the increase and thousands of phones are stolen by street robbers every month. To prevent being a victim of mobile phone theft you should:
- try not to use your phone in crowded areas where someone could easily snatch it from you
- avoid keeping your phone in public view
In case your phone is stolen keep a safe record of the following details - these will help to trace your phone and make it more difficult for thieves to use it and sell it on:
- always use your phone's security pin code
- security mark the battery and phone with your postcode (UV pens available from the Civic Centre)
- register your phone with your network operator - they will then be able to block your phone's SIM card if it is stolen
- make a note of the serial number of your handset - you can get this by typing *#06# into your phone. This number is unique to your handset. If your phone is stolen, this number will enable your phone manufacturer to block the actual phone handset.
If you follow all of these precautions your phone will be effectively useless to thieves making them less attractive to steal.
Car jacking is not necessarily a new form of crime, but like mobile phone crime, it is on the increase. Take these simple steps to protect yourself:
- keep car doors locked while you are driving around town
- keep valuables such as bags and mobile phones out of sight
- try to park in well lit areas where there are other people around
- when you return to your car have your keys ready so you can get straight in
- never give lifts to strangers
- if another car tries to signal you to stop or you think you are being followed then drive to a busy place such as a garage or even a police station before stopping. Even then keep your doors locked until you are sure there is no danger.
- never leave keys in the ignition when you are out of your car
- if bumped from behind stay in your car with the doors locked and wait for the other driver to approach you. If you are suspicious then ask the driver to follow you to your local police station
- if you feel threatened then use your lights, horn and mobile phone to summon help.
REMEMBER! YOUR SAFETY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PROPERTY - IF SOMEBODY ATTEMPTS TO SNATCH YOUR BAG, PHONE OR YOUR CAR, THEN THE SAFEST THING TO DO IS TO LET IT GO.
Vehicle crime is a serious problem.
Did you know that vehicle crime accounts for one fifth of all crimes recorded by the police? The cost of vehicle crime affects all owners because the more claims the insurance companies deal with - the more the premiums go up for everyone. But you can stop your vehicle being the next on the criminal's list by taking some very simple measures that are free or cost only a few pounds.
How to stop property being stolen from your vehicle
Remember that your vehicle is like a shop window for thieves. If you can see any of your property left in the vehicle you are inviting opportunist criminal to steal them:
* Briefcases * CDs and tapes * cheque books
* coats * credit cards * handbags
* loose change *mobile phones * shopping bags
* sports bags and equipment * wallets * cameras
* laptops/ tablets *other valuables
Remember, even if you don't know that the item left on display in your car is worthless the opportunist thief doesn't. If you have to leave items in your car, put them out of sight at the start of your journey.
Make sure that all your property is etched with your postcode and house or flat number. This will help the police return it to you in the event of being lost or stolen. It will also provide evidence that the property is stolen and help the police to get a conviction.
Lock all doors, close all windows and shut the sunroof every time you leave your car - no matter how briefly. Many cars are broken into in the few seconds it is out of driver's sight. When driving, it makes sense to keep valuables out of sight, all the doors locked and windows closed.
Buy a tamper proof tax disc holder. Hundreds of thousands of tax discs are stolen every year, and a tamper proof disc can deter a thief from breaking into your car - saving you repairing a broken window or door lock and replacing the tax disc.
How to stop your vehicle from being stolen.
Have all glass surfaces etched, including windows and headlights wit the registration number of your vehicle. You can also use the last seven digits of the Vehicle Identification Number.
If you have a garage, use it! Many vehicles are left in the road because the garage is full. Have a garage clear out and make room for your car. If you have to park in the road try and leave it near a street light. Thieves don't like working in the light!
Fit a steering wheel lock, a vehicle immobiliser or an alarm system. There are a number of these products on the market to suit everyone's pocket. These devices will make it more difficult for thieves to drive your car away.
Electronic immobilisers are effective against thieves but must be professionally fitted and approved by a recognised organisation. You can get information about vehicle immobilisers and other security products by calling the Vehicle Security National Helpline on 0870 550 2006.
Many thieves target wheels. To protect your wheels and tyres, fit locking wheel nuts, which are easy to fit.
When you go shopping try and leave your car in a car park that has been awarded the Secured Car Park Award. The Secured Award means that a lot of crime prevention measures will have been put in place. These will include CCTV cameras, car park attendants always on duty and good lighting. Try and leave your car near a light and remember don't leave any shopping on display, put it in the boot.
How Neighbourhood Watch can reduce vehicle crime
One of the ways to make community safer is to join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Neighbourhood Watch is the largest voluntary organisation within UK.
Neighbourhood Watch is about people working together to make their communities safer and more pleasant places to live and work. The aim of Neighbourhood Watch is to help people protect themselves and their properties, reduce fear of crime and improve their local environment. To find out where you can find your nearest Neighbourhood Watch scheme, contact our Crime Reduction Co-ordinator.
There are number of things that Neighbourhood Watch members can do about vehicle crime.
- look out for their neighbour's cars
- encourage everyone to postcode property
- encourage good security on garage doors
- make sure all vehicle crime is reported to police
- organise window etching free of charge
- organise a garage clear out and sell items to raise funds
- bulk purchase of vehicle security equipment.
What is Anti-Social Behaviour?
The term anti-social behaviour covers a wide range of unacceptable activity that blights the lives of many people on a daily basis. It often leaves victims feeling helpless, desperate and with a seriously reduced quality of life. Terms such as 'nuisance', 'disorder' and 'harassment' are also often used to describe this type of behaviour.
ASB is defined as "Behaviour by a person which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the person". (Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 & Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).
Personal - ASB is perceived to be targeted at an individual or group rather than the community at large
Nuisance - ASB is causing trouble, annoyance or suffering to the community at large rather than an individual or group.
Environmental - The incident is not aimed at an individual or group but targets the wider environment, e.g. public spaces/buildings.
- Vehicle Abandoned (not stolen)
- Vehicle Nuisance/inappropriate use
- Rowdy or Inconsiderate Behaviour
- Rowdy/Nuisance Neighbours
- Littering/Drugs Paraphernalia
- Animal Problems
- Nuisance Calls
- Street Drinking
- Prostitution-Related Activity
Why is tackling ASB important?
ASB is a key driver for public confidence in the police. Failure to tackle ASB leads to increased crime, especially violence with injury and criminal damage, both of which feature in the seven key neighbourhood crimes identified in the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Policing and Crime Plan 2013-2016.
How to Report Anti-Social Behaviour?
If you want to take action about antisocial behaviour you should first try and establish who is responsible for the behaviour. It is also important to establish whether the behaviour is deliberate or unintentional.
What you do will depend on the type of behaviour you are complaining about and on the result you want. You may, for example, want one or more of the following:
- to have the antisocial behaviour stopped
- to get compensation for any damage, loss or injury suffered
- to get an apology
- to be rehoused elsewhere
- the people responsible for the behaviour to be moved/evicted.
To deal with antisocial behaviour you can do one or more of the following:
Take action yourself
If you want to take action about antisocial behaviour you can:-
- contact the tenants' association where you live (if there is one), particularly over behaviour that may also be affecting other people
- contact the community warden scheme in your area (if there is one)
- seek mediation (see below)
- take civil proceedings in court to claim compensation and/or apply for an order to stop the perpetrator continuing with their behaviour.
If you are considering taking court action you will need the help of an experienced adviser, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you really can't get on with your neighbour, you may think that your only course of action is to move. If you own your home and you move because of neighbour problems, a prospective buyer must not be mislead by you or the estate agent about the problems that you've had. If a buyer asks if there is a current neighbour dispute and you or the estate agent doesn't disclose it the buyer may have grounds to withdraw from the sale and take legal action for breach of contract.
If you just want the behaviour to stop and do not wish to take legal action, you could consider a mediation scheme. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps two or more people in dispute to seek a mutually acceptable solution informally. Community mediation services deal with disputes between neighbours and in the community, including noise, children, pets, parking and burglaries. Mediation is usually free.
Mediation is an appropriate course of action if both parties are willing to go through with it. Mediation can take the form of direct, 'round the table' discussion, where the parties in dispute meet on neutral ground. If they are unwilling to meet, the mediators will act as intermediaries, conveying messages between each of the parties.
Ask the landlord to take action
You can ask your landlord to take action about antisocial behaviour. You should find out whether the landlord has a policy and procedure for dealing with antisocial behaviour. Local authority landlords must have antisocial behaviour strategies in place.
All landlords should take reports of antisocial behaviour seriously. Although local authorities and housing associations may have more resources to deal with problems, private landlords must also take steps to address any difficulties.
If private landlords do not respond to complaints of antisocial behaviour in relation to their tenants, occupiers or visitors to the property they own, the local authority can serve an antisocial behaviour notice (ASBN) on the landlord. An ASBN will set out steps that the landlord must take in order to tackle the antisocial behaviour.
If the private landlord does not take these steps, the local authority can do a number of things, including obtaining a rent penalty order or a management control order. A rent penalty order means that no rent is payable on the property until the landlord addresses the problem of antisocial behaviour. A management control order means that the local authority takes over the landlord's functions in relation to the property. In extreme cases, the local authority can refer the landlord to the Procurator Fiscal for prosecution as it is a criminal offence to fail to comply with an antisocial behaviour notice.
If you have requested that a private landlord take action to deal with antisocial behaviour in their property and they have not taken reasonable steps to deal with the problem, you should contact your local authority.
There are a number of steps that a landlord can take to deal with antisocial behaviour:-
- ask the police or the local authority to take action
- go to court to get the person behaving in an antisocial way evicted or take steps to bring the tenancy to an end
- apply to court for an antisocial behaviour order, if the landlord is a local authority or housing association
- rehouse the victim, or the person behaving in an antisocial way. This is very unlikely unless the landlord is a local authority or a registered social landlord.
If someone with a public sector tenancy has an antisocial behaviour order against them, their tenancy can be changed to a short Scottish secure tenancy. This means they will not have the right to buy, and their landlord is unlikely to allow an exchange with another tenant.
The person you are complaining about may have a tenancy agreement which forbids certain types of behaviour, for example, harassment, drug dealing or noise. If they break any of these conditions, this could lead to the person being evicted.
If you want to complain about a local authority or housing association tenant, you will normally be able to do this through a housing officer. If they are not a local authority or housing association tenant, you may have to contact their landlord or the landlord's agent.
Ask your local authority to take action
As a person who is suffering antisocial behaviour you can ask your local authority to deal with it, regardless of whether you are a local authority tenant or not. Your local authority can:
- apply to a court for an order to stop or prevent violent antisocial behaviour in its area
- apply to a court for an order to stop public nuisance, which includes drug-dealing
- take action to stop noise, nuisance and threats to health
- take action to evict the person responsible for the behaviour, if they are a local authority tenant
- offer the victim alternative accomodation
- send reports of any criminal offence to the Procurator Fiscal who will consider whether to prosecute having considered these reports and reports from the police
- take action to ensure that private landlords deal with the antisocial behaviour of their tenants.
Contact the police
The police can take action about any antisocial behaviour which is a criminal offence. They can refer someone to the Procurator Fiscal who has:-
- attacked another person, causing physical and/or psychological damage
- wilfully damaged someone else's property
- behaved in a threatening or abusive way in order to intimidate or frighten or cause harassment, alarm or distress intentionally, for example, by stalking you or writing anti-gay slogans on the wall outside your home
- incited racial or religious hatred or violence by, for example, distributing racist leaflets, or sectarian chanting at a football match.
The police have the power to disperse groups of people who persistently act in an antisocial way.
The police can issue on the spot fines (fixed penalty notices) for some types of antisocial behaviour, such as littering and dog fouling, singing after being asked to stop, or offensive behaviour at or near a football match, or in a pub where a match is being shown.
When local bye laws are in place it is an offence to drink alcohol outside and police can ask you to stop drinking if they think it is likely to cause antisocial behaviour.
The police have powers to seize and retain vehicles if the owner has been driving in such a way as to cause alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public.
The police can also apply for a court order to close down properties where there has been serious or persistent antisocial behaviour. Entering the property will then become an offence and the property will be sealed. These closure orders are likely to be used in a number of situations, for example where properties are used as drinking dens, for drug dealing or prostitution and there is a high degree of disruption and disorder as a result.
The police must take very seriously complaints about antisocial behaviour which is discriminating against you. If you think that your complaint has not been taken seriously enough or if you think the police are discriminating against you, you may want to make a complaint about the police.
Contact the community warden
Community wardens aim to improve the quality of life in local areas by reducing crime or the fear of crime, reducing antisocial behaviour and improving the quality of the local environment. The activities of community warden schemes will vary between local schemes. They may include reporting antisocial behaviour and acting as professional witnesses or helping clear up litter or graffiti.
You can find out whether there is a community warden scheme in your area by contacting your local council.
How to Beat Scam Mail Fraud
Fraudsters target the most vulnerable members of society through postal mailings promising cash prizes. So what's being done to stop them, and what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?
We've all had enticing letters arrive on our doorstep promising guaranteed lottery wins, fantastic investment opportunities, or a glimpse of the future through clairvoyants. All you have to do is send them money, give personal details, or purchase items to take advantage. However there is no lottery or prize to win, no investment and no glimpse of the future, just a fraudster taking your money. If scammed once, the same person will often be repeatedly targeted by scammers around the world, duping them out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. So what can be done to stop them?
Royal Mail scam mail initiative
The Royal Mail and Trading Standards have launched a joint initiative to tackle scam mail by:
- Creating new processes for cancelling the contracts of fraudulent companies, whereby companies identified by Trading Standards will be warned to stop their actions. If they ignore the warning and persist Royal Mail will cancel its contract
- Extra training for postmen and women to improve awareness so they can report suspected scam mailings
- Encouraging you to report fraudulent mail that you or your family have received
How do you report scam mail?
If you believe that you, or a relative, have been sent fraudulent mail you should report it to Royal Mail.
You can also contact Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 03454 04 05 06, write to them at Citizens Advice consumer service, Post Point 24, Town Hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston super Mare, North Somerset, BS23 1UJ, or you can complete an online form available from the CAB website.
What can you do to stop scam mail?
It can be very easy to fall for a scam mailing. They can look very convincing, and often the potential reward seems so good that it's worth throwing the dice in the hope it's legitimate.
Here are some of the things you can do to avoid being caught out:
- Never send cash, disclose personal information or buy items to claim a prize
- If you receive what looks like scam mail bin it straight away and don't respond
- Contact the Mailing Preference Service to have your name taken off direct mailing lists in the UK (unfortunately this won't stop overseas mail)
- Put a 'no junk mail' sign on your door
How can you help an elderly relative?
The sad truth of postal scams is the more vulnerable a person, the more they will be targeted.
Scammers work off mailing lists that specifically highlight the elderly or vulnerable; often people who live alone with no internet access and without the knowledge or capability to report these scams.
If you're worried that someone close to you is being tricked or taken advantage of, here a few things you can do:
- Look out for warning signs like unusual amounts of post, or large cash withdrawals
- Offer advice and support - People are often embarrassed to admit they've been scammed so try to reassure them that it's a common problem, and that all sorts of people get taken in by them
- Offer to have their post re-directed to you or another close relative so that scam mail can be filtered out
- Get help - contact Citizens Advice or Age UK who will be able to help further. Take a look at the Age UK avoiding scams guide for more information.
Another helpful resource is the Think Jessica website; a registered charity that raises awareness of the dangers that postal scams can cause to the elderly and vulnerable. Read Jessica's story to understand just how damaging these scams can be, and the importance of getting help if you suspect a relative is being scammed.