IT may strike some people as odd that Home Secretary Jacquie Smith is finally assembling a team of people who know how to stop burglaries.
Most will ask: why has nobody thought to do such a thing before? Where have these people been all our lives?
“I don’t think there is anything inevitable about saying because we have a recession burglary needs to rise,” she told BBC Breakfast yesterday.
That’s not what you were saying late last year, Ms Smith, when a leaked memo to PM Gordon Brown from your department warned of a likely increase in “acquisitive” crimes including burglary as a result of the economic downturn.
“In order to make sure that (increase in crime) doesn’t happen we are taking action,” she said.
“Today we are bringing together the people who know how to stop burglary.”
The idea that when times are hard, the number of thefts rise, probably sounds like a given.
Recessions always hit the poorest hardest. And it is from the poorest sections of society that the majority of burglars are recruited.
Jacquie Smith now feels, rightly, that she should accentuate the positive rather than dwell on the negative.
At a conference designed to put people’s minds at rest she was determined that people should receive the best possible advice on how to protect their homes.
The summit meeting in London between police, retailers, insurers and charities for elderly people follows news that break-ins at homes are indeed increasing.
They were up 4% in the period July to September, 2008, prompting fears in some areas of a “credit crunch crimewave”.
Ms Smith was launching a £1.6m crime prevention campaign and a new internet-based test for people to check their home security.
The three-minute test will rate people’s homes on the basis of the information people provide and suggest new ways to make homes safer.
West Yorkshire Police have high-visibility Neighbourhood Policing teams out in Kirklees, and they reiterated commonsense advice today that, despite its effectiveness, is often ignored.
Timer switches are cheap, easily fitted and give a would-be burglar the impression you’re at home.
Double-locking on doors and windows is an excellent deterrent. Of course, making sure doors and windows are shut and locked when you aren’t around is sound advice, since a large number of burglaries are opportunistic.
Movement-sensitive burglar alarms are much more expensive but are enough to scare all but the most persistent breakers-in away.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We’ve had so many summits in the past 10 years under this Government that if they solved anything, we would now be living in the perfect society.
“The harsh reality is that more talk in Whitehall won’t achieve anything.
“If we’re going to tackle burglary we need to put a stop to the vast burden of paperwork our police face every day, and get more of them back out on to the streets fighting crime.”