If any tenant is a victim of a crime, such as homophobic crime, racist crime, or general crime, they should contact the Police, but also advise the Council of the problem.
It is likely that if a crime is perpetrated against a tenant whilst in their home, or whilst in the vicinity of their home, the person commiting the crime may be in breach of their Conditions of Tenancy and it may be possible to either ensure that they do not repeat their actions or potentially that they could be evicted.
Where there are issues of community safety we always welcome the input of our tenants. This may be instances where a security light is required or a door entry system to a block of flats. We do work with the Police on resolving community safety issues and we would be happy to take up any suggestions from our tenants.
Winchester's Community Safety Partnership, involves the City Council, the Police and other local bodies.
Challenging the Fear of Crime
The chances that you, or a member of your family will be a victim of crime are low. Crimes and especially violent crimes are still comparatively rare. Nevertheless, many people are frightened that they, or someone close to them, will be the victim of crime.
The best way to minimise the risks of crime are by taking sensible precautions. Most people already do this as part of their everyday lives, often without realising it. Sensible precautions limit risk and reduce crime. This guide is aimed informing people of some of the very straightforward ways in which they can reduce crime for themselves and their community.
- use only your surname and initials in the telephone directory and on the doorplate. That way a stranger won't know if a man or a woman lives there.
- if you see signs of a break-in at your home, like a smashed window or open door, don't go in. Go to a neighbour and call the police.
- if you are selling your home, don't show people around on your own. Ask your estate agent to send a representative with anyone who wants to view your house.
- when you answer the phone, simply say 'hello'; don't give your number. If the caller claims to have a wrong number, ask him or her to repeat the number required. Never reveal any information about yourself to a stranger and never say you are alone in the house.
- if you receive an abusive or threatening phone call, put the receiver down beside the phone, and walk away. Come back a few minutes later and replace the receiver; don't listen to see if the caller is still there. Don't say anything - an emotional reaction is just what the caller wants. This allows the caller to say what he or she wants to say, without causing distress to you. If the calls continue, tell the police and the operator and keep a record of the date, time and content of each phone call. This may help the authorities trace the caller.
A lot of burglaries can be prevented. Most are committed by opportunist thieves, and in two burglaries out of ten the thief does not have to force his way in because a door or window has been left open. Burglars like easy opportunities. They don't like locked windows because breaking glass attracts attention. They don't like security deadlocks on doors because they cannot open them even from the inside and they have to get out through a window. Simple precautions like these do work:
- Looking after your flat: Make sure your front door is secure. It should be as ably built as the main outside door of the block. If it isn't, get another one or ask your local council to do it. Fit hinge bolts which stop someone pulling the door from its hinges. And fix a special steel strip into the doorframe.
- Door Entry Systems: If your block does not have a telephone entry system, talk to the landlord or council about putting one in. This may be easier if you get together with other tenants to form a tenants' association. If you do have a telephone entry system, don't let strangers in or hold the door open for someone who is arriving as you are leaving.
- Strangers: Be alert to people loitering in residential streets. If it is no one you recognise, call the police.
- Burglar alarms: Visible burglar alarms make burglars think twice.
- Front Door Roof: A thief could reach first floor windows from this roof - so fit window locks.
- Gates and Fences: A high wall or fence at the back of a house can put off a burglars. Check for weak spots where a thief could get in. A thorny hedge along a boundary an also be a useful deterrent. Make sure the front of the house is still visible to passers by, so that a burglar can't work unseen.
- Small Windows: Even small windows like casement windows, skylights or bathroom fanlights need locks. A thief can get in through any gap larger than a human head.
- Spare Keys: Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like under a doormat, in a flowerpot or inside a letterbox - a thief will look there first.
- Garages and Sheds: Never leave a garage or garden shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house. Lock tools and ladders away so that a thief cannot use them to break in.
- Side passages: Stop a thief getting to the back of the house - where he can work with less chance of being seen - by fitting a, high gate across the passage. If you share an alleyway with a neighbour, talk to him or her about sharing the cost.
In the Home
- make sure your house of flat is secure. Always secure outside doors. Fit barrel locks top and bottom. If you have to use a key, keep it nearby - you may need to get out quickly in the event of fire.
- if you are buying or renting a new house or flat, ask the builders or landlord to fit window locks, deadlocks and b doors.
- if your Housing Association or Council house or flat is not secure, ask for something to be done. As well as giving you peace of mind, it will encourage them to improve the security of their properties as a routine feature of refurbishment.
- if other people such as previous tenants could still have keys that fit, change the locks. Don't give keys to workmen or tradesmen, as they can easily make copies.
- if you wake to hear the sound of an intruder, only you can decide how best to handle the situation. You may want to lie quietly to avoid attracting attention to yourself, in the hope that they will leave. Or you may feel more confident if you switch on the lights and make a lot of noise by moving about. Even if you're on your own, call out loudly to an imaginary companion - most burglars will flee empty-handed rather than risking a confrontation. Ring the police as soon as it's safe for you to do so. A telephone extension in your bedroom will make you feel more secure as it allows you to call the police immediately, without alerting the intruder.
- draw your curtains after dark and if you think there is a prowler outside - dial 999 - and always tell the operator exactly what is happening.
- when parking in a public car park - look for one that is well supervised, with restricted entry and exit points, good lighting and security cameras. In multi-storey car parks, choose a widely visible bay.
- car parks can be a target for thieves and a source of fear for many people. A police scheme - 'Secured Car Parks' - aims to make car parks safer, more attractive places - by setting high crime prevention standards of internal design and layout. Those measuring up are entitled to display the official gold or silver 'Secured Car Parks' emblem. To find out about 'Secured Car Parks' in your area, contact the crime prevention officer at your local police station.
There is a lot we can do outside our home and family to prevent crime. We can take action by getting together with other people and working in partnership with the police and Council to reduce crime in our Borough. We can help by simply being alert and observant when out and about in our neighbourhoods - or we could apply to join the local Neighbourhood Watch or Special Constabulary. Anyone can play some part, however great or small.
- Roads, footpaths and subways: you can help to maintain a safer environment by reporting to the authorities if streets, footpaths and subways are not well lit.
- Building design: developers and local authorities should demand that new developments like housing estates, shopping precincts and car parks are designed to minimise the opportunities for criminals, and to create attractive and welcoming environments.
- Schools: arson and vandalism cost schools dearly - between five and ten per cent of some education authorities' maintenance budgets are spent repairing vandalism damage. The money could be spent elsewhere by reducing vandalism through good design, sensible security measures and better management practices. Ask what your children's school is doing to prevent vandalism and the risk of arson.
- Home insurance: does your insurance company offer discounts on home insurance if you are a member of Neighbourhood Watch? If not, try to find an insurance company who does.
- Mobile Phones: Every mobile phone has a unique IMEI number - Dial*#06# to get yours and make a note of it so that if it is stolen, you can give it to the police to help recover, or to your service provider to stop the phone being used by anyone else.
Young people, especially young men, are vulnerable to being victims of crime, and young people sometimes suffer bullying, harassment robbery (particularly theft of mobile phone). The Community Safety Partnership is keen to work with young people to develop youth crime prevention, aiming to prevent young people from become victims of crime or anti-social behaviour.
Think safe and be safe - if you know that there are risks make sure that you don't take them.
Tackling Anti Social Behaviour
Anti social behaviour can range from noisy neighbours to neighbourhood disputes and from aggressive or threatening behaviour to vandalism. Some of this behaviour is unlawful and some of this behaviour is just simply a nuisance. What it does have in common is that it raises the fear of crime, lowers the standards of an area and, very often, is the entry point for areas to become crime hot spots.
We are committed to challenging and reducing such behaviour and are keen to tackle the problems of anti social behaviour.
We are also working with the police and Housing Associations to reduce the problems in other areas, through the introduction of Neighbourhood Wardens and the implementation of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (targeted at the most intractable of offenders) and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC's).
It is important that members of the public let our services know of the problems immediately they arise. Don't wait for the problems to get to boiling point; as that enables the Council to better plan and better deal with those problems before they become too big.
Developing a Local Neighbourhood Watch
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are a way for people in an area to get together to help prevent crime and make their neighbourhood a safer place. Neighbourhood Watch is known as Home Watch in some areas, but both work along similar lines and are built on the same idea - of looking after one another and the neighbourhood.
Groups can vary in size, depending on the area and what people want. They target local concerns - like burglary, vandalism or graffiti and devise ways of dealing with them. Individual members decide how active they want to be in the scheme. You could become a committee member or even co-ordinator of a group - or your part could be just keeping an eye on your neighbours' houses while they're away.
Schemes develop close links with the police, who can provide advice and information about local problems. Well-run schemes can have a big impact on local crime.