Headlines: August 12th, 2004

An ‘AlertBox’ linking people nearby is being trialled by councils and crime prevention groups in a move to reduce the fear of crime. A survey showed that 73 per cent of people believed that crime had risen since 1999 when in fact it has fallen by 17 per cent. The box, which is the size of a paperback book and uses state of the art radio technology, has one button to send a warning and another to offer help. The box has a range of 100 metres and a display shows the sender of a message and the time it was sent.The London Borough of Barnet is running a three-month trial with elderly and vulnerable people. Paul Hammond, director of Boroughwatch – an independent charitable organisation that sits in the local Partnership said: “The public is suffering from a loss of confidence, which is helping criminals. Giving people a sense of empowerment by harnessing the latest technologies is a great step forward to creating more secure neighbourhoods – both practically and psychologically. Our number one aim is to reduce the fear of crime and we feel confident that AlertBox will be a useful tool to help us achieve that. While we must wait until the end of the three month trial to give our final assessment, AlertBox has already been used successfully in action to alert the community to some worrying noise and disturbance by youths.

AlertBox is also being trialled in schools, doctors surgeries and Magistrates Courts.