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Home security


Answer

A secure home will reduce the chance of you getting burgled. Many domestic burglaries are committed by opportunists; criminals will look for homes that have little or no obvious security, have doors or windows left open or seem unoccupied.

Listed below are some top tips to help keep your home safe from thieves:

  • Installing an alarm system will help to deter burglars.
  • Ensure you have a robust, secure front door with British Standard approved locks and hinges. See the link in Related Information for detailed guidance from the Master Locksmiths Association.
  • Install outside lighting, such as motion sensor lights so that intruders cannot approach without being seen.
  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you are just out in the garden.
  • Consider installing CCTV, as this is good deterrent for thieves and if you are targeted, CCTV can provide valuable evidence.
  • When you go out, leave radios or lights in your house on a timer to make the property appear occupied.
  • Keep hedges and walls at the front of your house low (under one metre) so burglars have nowhere to hide.
  • Keep side and rear boundaries high and add trellis or prickly defensive planting to make it harder for burglars to climb over.
  • If you have a sliding patio door, check it has an anti-lift device fitted so it can't be lifted out of the frame.
  • Move bins or garden furniture that could be used to reach windows.
  • Ensure communal doors in flats / apartments are closed and secure and report any faults to your landlord.
  • Never buzz anyone in to the building that you do not know or let them follow behind you.
  • Lock and secure any sheds and outbuildings.
  • Property mark and register valuable items. See Related Information for details.

Please also see the following websites in Related Information.


Answer

It is an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including private property.

All the circumstances will be considered and each decision will be judged individually. For example, if you deliberately set your dog onto the intruder and they suffer injury, you may be liable for prosecution and the dog ordered to be kept under control.

However, if you are not at home and your dog attacks an intruder, it is unlikely that you would be liable for the attack. This defence only applies in your home and not other premises or land i.e. if a person (intruder of otherwise) enters your garden and is bitten by your dog, you may be liable.

Q653 provides more information on dangerous dogs.


Answer

Many people install CCTV at their properties as a home security measure as it's an effective tool in fighting crime. Where CCTV is in operation and it only captures your home and garden then it will not be covered by the Data Protection legislation. However, if it captures any images outside the confines of your household, such as the street or other houses, the images will be subject to the Data Protection legislation and you will be required to register as a 'data controller' with the Information Commissioners Office.

Steps should be taken to ensure the CCTV is positioned correctly to avoid complaints or in some cases, accusations of violation of privacy or harassment. You may wish to put up a sign on your property informing people that CCTV is in use, although this is not mandatory unless your system records images beyond your own boundary.

In the first instance, it would be advisable to speak to your neighbour to see if it is possible to move the camera so that it does not point at your property. If this is not possible and you want to take further action you would need to seek legal advice from a solicitor.

See the links in Related Information for further guidance on the use of domestic CCTV systems.


Answer

Yes, it is perfectly legal to use anti-climbing paint although there are a couple of factors which should be considered when applying the paint -

  • You should make sure the anti-climbing paint starts at a reasonably high level so passers-by do not damage their clothing inadvertently.
  • 'Warning: Anti-Climb Paint' signs should be clearly posted wherever there is paint in use. These should be posted to protect the company or householder from being sued in a civil court, e.g. to protect themselves from civil action for any damage to clothing.
  • The notices should be simple enough for a reasonably young person to understand as, apart from intruders, they are the ones likely to be trying to climb up.


Answer

We cannot make any specific recommendations. Your home insurance company would be one of the best people to contact to get advice regarding a burglar alarm. They may have a list of approved companies that they can recommend, and by using one of them they may offer a reduction on your policy. See the link in Related Information to Security Alarms, which provides information as to the different types of alarm systems that are available, to see which ones would best suit your needs.

It would be a good idea to see if the alarm company that you select has one or more of the following accreditations (in no particular order):

    • BSIA (British Security Industry Association) or FSA (Fire and Security Association) - these are the industry's own professional bodies
    • NSI (National Security Inspectorate) who also run other named schemes
    • SSAIB (Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board)

For further information on burglar alarms and other home security tips, please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

The Police will only attend alarms installed in line with the National Police Chiefs' Council's (NPCC) Security Systems Policy. The majority of domestic alarms do not comply with that policy by virtue of the fact they are audible only systems.

The Police will also respond to domestic alarms, when there is some evidence of criminal activity. Should there be an activation and there is evidence of criminal activity or you see something suspicious, please dial 999. It is not advisable to put yourself in danger by making checks yourself.

If it appears to be a false activation, contact the police on their non-emergency number as they may have the owner's contact details on their database.

If it is a persistent problem, contact the local council or see the question in Related Information about noisy neighbours.


Answer

Yes, the details must be in writing, for a business and it must be on letter headed paper. The details will be forwarded on to the relevant Crime Prevention department for your police area.


Answer

The Trading Standards Institute gives detailed advice regarding cold callers and advice on your rights regarding them.

'Doorstep sellers' are becoming an increasing problem, usually targeting older people. Someone comes to your door with the aim of scamming you out of money or trying to gain access to your home to steal items. In some cases, the sellers portray to be reformed criminals who are looking to start their lives again.

You can put up a 'no cold callers' sign which should deter them from knocking on your door, and if a cold caller ignores this sign it is a criminal offence. Whilst the police may not be able to take action in each individual case of the sign being ignored, the information can be used to target these sellers and prevent them from committing crimes.

If you are the victim of this and the callers refuse to leave, you can contact the police. If you are not in immediate danger, we would advise that you make a report via the non-emergency 101 number or on the 999 number in an emergency.

For further guidance please see the links in 'related information' to helpful websites.


Answer

Using barbed/razor wire and broken glass in order to stop people getting into your home is not advisable. You are making yourself liable to civil action, if by doing this someone is injured, as you owe a duty of care to ensure that visitors to your property are reasonably safe. Odd as it may seem, you also owe a duty of care to trespassers.

The use of such a preventative measure could also be seen as being detrimental to the neighbourhood.

Using other methods of crime prevention such as trellis fencing and defensible planting is often more effective and pleasant to look at.

Trellis fencing is effective because it increases the height of the boundary and it is not usually strong enough to hold an intruder's weight Therefore, they may not want to risk climbing over it, breaking it and making a loud noise.

Prickly plants such as Hawthorne, Poncira, Pyracantha (rapid growth), Rosa Rugosa, or any kind of Berberis are an effective obstacle against possible intruders and much more pleasant to look at.

Whatever method you use, it is important to ensure that you have planning permission, if required, and you do not leave yourself open to civil proceedings. Please see websites in Related Information for more detail or contact your local crime prevention/reduction officer.


Answer

Most insurance companies would prefer a five-lever mortice dead lock (BS3621) on all doors and key operated locks on all windows.

Extra locks should be placed on all French doors and patios as they are particularly vulnerable. For patio doors - if the doors don't have them already, most newer doors have them fitted - anti lift devices are available and extra bolt locks should be added at the top and bottom of the door.

French doors should have a five-lever mortice dead lock and also extra bolt locks at the top and the bottom of the door.

It is not advisable to have a key cabinet in your house, as any intruder will know exactly where to go to get the keys for the back door, the garage, the car etc... The keys for the windows and doors should be preferably kept out of view but in a place that is easily accessible. For more information and other home security tips, please see the links in Related Information.


Answer

The Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (NHW) is the official national overarching body for all schemes within England & Wales, providing support for all NHW scheme members. You can enter your postcode on their website (see Related Information) to find your nearest scheme. You can also send your local scheme a message via the site.

If there is not a scheme in your local area and you want to set one up, please refer to the website in Related Information for more details on this and other matters relating to Neighbourhood Watch.

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are very popular and many insurance companies offer a discount on home insurance if you are a member of a scheme.


Answer

It is always advisable to use a chain or peephole before answering the door to anyone that you do not know.

If there is a person claiming to be from a company such as electricity/gas/water, then they will have official ID. If they are genuine they will have no problem with you asking to see it and telephoning the company to verify it. You can also look the telephone number up yourself. However, do not use a telephone number they give you, as you cannot be sure as this number may not be genuine.

If you have any doubts whatsoever then do not let them in, it is better to be safe than sorry. You can always then telephone the company and make an arrangement for another day.

If it is a person who wants to carry out some work on your garden/drive/roof etc. and they make a cold call to your house then be very wary. Before having any major work done on your house you should seek to obtain at least two or three quotes from different reputable companies.

If the person gives you a price that is too good to be true then it is likely it will be. Be careful, there have been cases of people carrying out the job and then demanding more money.

There are also cases of the workman offering to drive the person to the bank to get the money, which is often at a massively inflated price.

Some people who offer to carry out such tasks are genuine but there are those that are not and will take advantage of people, mainly the vulnerable and the elderly. It is advisable not to allow any workmen to carry out any tasks in your home unless they have been personally recommended to you and you have approached them.

If the person keeps contacting you about the work then be very careful as reputable companies tend to be very busy and do not need to chase work.

Local council building control can advise on building contractors on an "approved list". Also Trading Standards can advise on other contractors (e.g. burglar alarm installers). Trade associations often have a list of "registered" businesses. Plus ask the "workman" at the door for a card, website address, names and addresses of local premises where he/she has undertaken work (and contact one or two of them to verify personally).

See the websites in Related Information for more help and advice or contact Consumer Direct on: 08454 040506.


Answer

The ideal situation is not to keep anything of great value in your shed, but this is sometimes not possible for many people.

There are anti-theft padlocks available that are harder to break. If an intruder thinks it is going to take a long time to break in then they may not bother trying. Another option is to have your house burglar alarm extended to the garage / shed, or to get a battery operated alarm for the shed.

In case the worst does happen, then it is worth checking with your insurance company that items in your shed are covered. For more information on this and general advice on home security, please see the links in Related Information.


Answer

Yes they are. The best type of external light is one that stays on all the time. Any intruder that has made up their mind to break into a property will more than likely not be put off by lights that are triggered by movement. If the light is on all the time then it may make them think twice before attempting to break into the property. For further information on home security, please see the links in Related Information.


Answer

Here are a few tips on how to make your home more secure:

  • Install a visual burglar alarm.
  • Install windows and doors that have a key operated lock.
  • Tell a trusted neighbour if you are going on holiday; ask if they would perhaps draw the curtains on an evening.
  • Consider joining your local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.
  • Have a chain and a peephole on your door/s.
  • Lock the garden shed.
  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house. Do not leave any window open.
  • Remember to double-lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn the key).
  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you're just out in the garden.
  • Keep all keys out of view, in a place where you can quickly find them.
  • Fit a restrictor to your letterbox.
  • Put your lights or a radio on a timer when you are out in the evening.
  • Mark your property with a postcode and a house number, then register it with Immobilise. See www.immobilise.com, which is a free website where you can register any property that has a serial number.

For detailed advice on making your home secure, please see Related Information. The Crime Prevention Officer at your local police force will also be able to assist.


Answer

It is very unlikely that you will be confronted by an intruder in your own home, but should this happen, you can use 'reasonable force' to protect yourself, your family or your property. Please see guidance and information on what constitutes 'reasonable force' against intruders in Related Information. You can also get this information in a leaflet from your local police force.

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