One of the first ways in which people can take steps to reduce their chance of being a target of crime is Target Hardening. Target hardening refers to the simple, straightforward improvement of physical security devices on domestic dwellings such as door locks, window locks, door chains and reinforcing bars. Some facilities could simply not function without target hardening devices, for example, banks and building societies. One good example to consider is that of a simple front door leading into a residential property.
Ideally, there should be two locks in addition to the normal Yale lock, with one of these being a mortice deadlock. These two extra locks should be positioned one third from the top and bottom of the door. Another simple measure is to make sure that your property looks occupied, even when it is not. Get a neighbour to check the property while you are away, or get security lights that operate on a timer. Even something as simple as never leaving a spare key under a plant pot or outside mat must be considered, as these are all places a thief will look first, as it can be common practise among some people to do this.
Another method of target hardening are high fences, or using rose bushes in addition to these fences, as these will deter some opportunist thieves. Target hardening is a victim orientated defence mechanism and can help reduce the chance of a second burglary if a household is unfortunate enough to fall victim initially. Target hardening works because it helps to overcome the ease with which offenders can gain access to potential victims' homes, which has been shown to be a major factor behind burglary. Evidence suggesting that installing basic target hardening measures can be effective comes from a review of the British Crime Survey.
Between 1997 and 1999, the total number of burglaries fell significantly, by 21%, from 1,628,000 to 1,284,000. This follows less marked falls between 1993 and 1997. The number of burglaries in 1999 was below that measured in 1991. The British Crime Survey also reported that 15% of households across England and Wales without security measures were burgled compared with 4% of those with basic measures in place and 3% of those with higher levels of security. Research indicates that 72% of attempted burglaries failed because of the protection provided by basic security measures.
4 The second method of crime reduction I will consider is Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). The purpose of CCTV is to prevent and reduce crime. CCTV tries to reduce crime in city centres especially by increasing the risk of detection by using cameras to monitor certain areas of the city. The central theory behind CCTV is that of deterrence; the idea that the offender will be aware of the cameras presence and will decide the chances of getting caught outweigh the benefits gained from committing the crime. Another reason CCTV works in theory is because of prosecution.
Thieves and shoplifters can now be caught on camera and the images obtained can be used to help catch and prosecute them. CCTV also works by reducing the level of fear of crime, and when people are more confident and feel safer due to the presence of a camera, it may deter potential criminals from attacking. CCTV, through monitoring, can also prevent crimes from occurring. If a security guard was watching suspicious behaviour on the screen, he could alert shop staff to the persons' behaviour so they can keep a closer eye on them.
CCTV could also help cut down on drug misuse and alcohol induced crimes as problem areas can be targeted with the cameras. In relation to Edinburgh, there are 13 cameras operating in the city centre around Princes Street, Lothian Road, Picardy Place and the Grassmarket. Since the project was launched in 1998, more than 1255 people have been arrested directly due to CCTV. There has been a call from a senior police officer to install more cameras, especially with Harvey Nichols recently having opened in the centre, which will surely prove to be a target for stealing and maybe vandalism.
CCTV has made a significant difference to crime levels in the areas where it is installed. Just over a year ago, there were cameras installed in the Sighthill area of Edinburgh, and a Lothian and Borders policeman is of the opinion that it has made a substantial difference in the area the cameras cover. The cameras are place well out of reach from the ground and their stands are covered with a special paint that slips if people were to try and climb the poles.
The third way to reduce crime I will look at is Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. A scheme such as this could be compared to a group of Meerkats. What's so special about them is their natural instinct to work as teams to keep themselves and their young safe. They take turns to go on look-out duty and by being alert warn others in the group of anything that might be suspicious or threatening. As Sir David Attenborough put it, their strength is their unity: "This is the team where it's one for all and all for one.
"5 Although this may seem like a strange comparison, that is what Neighbourhood Watch is all about – looking out for each other. Neighbours uniting and acting together means that dozens of eyes and ears are ready to pick up on anything happening in the neighbourhood that could cause worry or concern. It's not about being nosy or interfering, it's about being a good neighbour and caring about your community. Neighbour Watch has been described as one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention programmes ever initiated in the UK.
It is way of helping the community to help the police with the provision of extra ears and eyes to combat the ever increasing levels of crime we are experiencing today. Currently, over 55, 000 homes in the Lothian and Borders areas are covered by Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. It is about creating communities who care and who will look out for one another and their property. These schemes can target local crime problems and take action to help prevent them. People can feel safer and more secure knowing that their neighbours are there to help and watch out for them in return for the same.