Headlines: June 23rd, 2000

The Home Office has launched a crackdown on burglars. The initiative involves providing locks for pensioners and piloting projects to deal with bogus callers. Since 1997 overall recorded crime has fallen by 7% and domestic burglary by 20%, but these falls have done little to allay the fear of crime in general or burglary in particular.Pensioners who live in burglary black spots and meet certain income requirements will be able to have locks and other security devices fitted free of charge. As part of a joined-up approach, surveyors of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions’ Home Energy Efficiency Scheme will assess what security devices are needed. The principal role of the surveyors is to advise on measures to tackle fuel poverty.

Twenty-two pilot schemes will try out different community based methods of tackling the menace of ‘bogus callers’. In each pilot area the Home Office will work with the local Neighbourhood Watch, local authority, police and business to identify vulnerable residents and look for different ways to offer protection. The average age of victims is 81 and 60 per cent are female, with the majority living alone. The crime can have a devastating effect upon victims and a number have suffered heart attacks, strokes and worsened mental instability after the burglary has taken place.