Your Practical Guide to Crime Prevention

Your Practical Guide to Crime Prevention 

Personal Safety
Personal possessions
Racial harassment
Help for elderly people
Alcohol and drugs
Keeping your children safe
Out and about with your child
Looking after your Home
The things you own
Your community
Consumer power and crime prevention


Bringing crime down

This is a book about crime and what you can do to prevent it. It is
the job of the police to fight crime, but we can all help to bring crime
down. Most crime is against property, not people, are not many crimes
are carefully planned. Most are committed by young men on the spur of
the moment when they see the chance � possessions left in a car or a
door or window to a house left open. But you can reduce the risk by
securing your car and home. This will also help the police, by giving
them more time to tackle serious crime. And that�s good for you and
your family � because it makes your neighbourhood a safer place to
live in.

Your family

Includes advice on personal safety; protecting children and the
elderly; preventing racial harassment and drug and alcohol abuse.

Your home

Thieves like easy openings. Help make your home safer with some
simple security tips.

Your possessions

Protect your car, motorcycle or bicycle by following the advice in
this chapter.

Your community

There is a lot you can do outside your home and family to help
prevent crime. Here are some ways you can help in the area where you


Every section has a HELP panel with telephone numbers and addresses
for more help and advice.

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Personal Safety

The chances that you, or a member of your family will be a victim of
violent crime is low. Violent crimes are still comparatively rare and
account for a very small part of recorded crime. Nevertheless, many
people are frightened that they, or someone close to them, will be the
victim of a violent attack.

The best way to minimise the risk of attack is by taking sensible
precautions. Most people already do this as part of their everyday
lives, often without realising it. You may already be aware of some of
the suggestions listed below, but some may be new to you, and you may
find them useful. They seem particularly relevant to women, but if you
are a man, don�t stop reading or turn the page. You can act positively
to contribute towards womens� safety, as well as reducing the risk of
assault yourself.

How can you stay safe?

At home

  • Make sure your house of flat is secure. Always
    secure outside doors. Fit barrel locks top and bottom. If you have
    to use a key, keep it nearby � you may need to get out quickly in
    the event of fire.
  • If other people such as previous tenants could still have keys
    that fit, change the locks. Don�t give keys to workmen or
    tradesmen, as they can easily make copies.
  • If you wake to hear the sound of an intruder, only you can decide
    how best to handle the situation. You may want to lie quietly to
    avoid attracting attention to yourself, in the hope that they will
    leave. Or you may feel more confident if you switch on the lights
    and make a lot of noise by moving about. Even if you�re on your
    own, call out loudly to an imaginary companion � most burglars
    will flee empty-handed rather than risking a confrontation. Ring the
    police as soon as it�s safe for you to do so. A telephone
    extension in your bedroom will make you feel more secure as it
    allows you to call the police immediately, without alerting the
  • Draw your curtains after dark and if you think there is a prowler
    outside � dial 999

Personal safety

  • Use only your surname and initials in the telephone directory and
    on the doorplate. That way a stranger won�t know if a man or a
    woman lives there.
  • If you see signs of a break-in at your home, like a smashed window
    or open door, don�t go in. Go to a neighbour and call the police.
  • If you are selling your home, don�t show people around on your
    own. Ask your estate agent to send a representative with anyone who
    wants to view your house.
  • When you answer the phone, simply say �hello�; don�t give
    your number. If the caller claims to have a wrong number, ask him or
    her to repeat the number required. Never reveal any information
    about yourself to a stranger and never say you are alone in the
  • If you receive an abusive or threatening phone call, put the
    receiver down beside the phone, and walk away. Come back a few
    minutes later and replace the receiver; don�t listen to see if the
    caller is still there. Don�t say anything � an emotional
    reaction is just what the caller wants. This allows the caller to
    say what he or she wants to say, without causing distress to you. If
    the calls continue, tell the police and the operator and keep a
    record of the date, time and content of each phone call. This may
    help the authorities trace the caller (see HELP section).

Out and about

  • If you often walk home in the dark, get a personal attack alarm
    from a DIY store or ask your local crime prevention officer where
    you can buy one. Carry it in your hand so you can use it immediately
    to scare off an attacker. Make sure it is designed to continue
    sounding if it�s dropped or falls to the ground.
  • Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards. Carry
    your house keys in your pocket. If someone grabs your bag, let it
    go. If you hang on, you could get hurt. Remember your safety is more
    important than your property.
  • If you think someone is following you, check by crossing the
    street � more than once if necessary � to see if he follows. If
    you are still worried, get to the nearest place where there are
    other people � a pub or anywhere with a lot of lights on � and
    call the police. Avoid using an enclosed phonebox in the street, as
    the attacker could trap you inside.
  • If you regularly go jogging or cycling, try to vary your route and
    time. Stick to well-lit roads with pavements. On commons and
    parklands, keep to main paths and open spaces where you can see and
    be seen by other people � avoid wooded areas. If you wear a
    personal stereo, remember you can�t hear traffic, or somebody
    approaching behind you.
  • Don�t take short-cuts through dark alleys, parks or across waste
    ground. Walk facing the traffic so a car cannot pull up behind you
  • If a car stops and you are threatened, scream and shout, and set
    off your personal attack alarm if you have one. Get away as quickly
    as you can. This will gain you vital seconds and make it more
    difficult for the car driver to follow. If you can, make a mental
    note of the number and description of the car. Write down details as
    soon as possible afterwards.
  • Don�t hitch-hike or take lifts from strangers.
  • Cover up expensive looking jewellery.
  • Self-defence and safety awareness classes may help you feel more
    secure. Ask your local police or your work if they have classes.


  • If you are going to be out late, try to arrange a lift home or
    book a taxi. Check that the taxi that arrives if the one you
    ordered. Ask for a description of the car � colour, make, etc �
    and check this when it arrives. If you gave your name when you
    booked, check that the driver can tell you it before you get in.
    When you get home, ask the driver to wait until you are inside.
  • There are many reputable mini-cab or private hire car companies,
    but these must be booked either at their office or by phone. In some
    cases the driver will carry identification. Always keep the number
    of a reliable firm handy. Avoid mini-cabs or private hire cars that
    tout for business.
  • Always sit behind the driver.
  • If you feel uneasy, ask to be let out in a well-lit area where
    there are plenty of people
  • If in any doubt, don�t get in a taxi.

On public transport

  • Try to stay away from isolated bus stops, especially after dark.
  • On an empty bus, sit near the driver or conductor.
  • On a train, sit in a compartment where there are several other
    people � ideally one which will be near the exit of your
    destination. Check to see where the emergency chain is.

When driving

  • Before a long trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition.
  • Plan how to get to your destination before leaving, and stay on
    main roads if you can.
  • Make sure you have enough money and petrol. Carry a spare petrol
  • Keep change and a phone card in case you need to make a telephone
    call. Carry a torch.
  • Before you leave, tell anyone you are planning to meet what time
    you think you will get there, and the route you are taking.
  • If someone tries to flag you down, drive on until you come to a
    service station, or somewhere busy, and call the police. Do not pick
    up hitch-hikers.
  • Keep doors locked when driving and keep any bad, carphone or
    valuables out of sight. If you have the window open, only wind it
    down a little. Don�t wind it down far enough to allow someone to
    reach in while you are stopped in traffic.
  • If you think you are being followed, try to alert others by
    flashing your lights and sounding your horn. Make as much noise as
    possible. If you can, keep driving until you come to a busy place.
  • After dark, park in a well-lit, busy place. Look around before you
    get out. If you�re parking in daylight, but coming back for your
    car at night, think about how things will look in the dark.
  • Have your key ready when you go back to your car. Make sure there
    is no-one in the car.
  • If your car develops problems, find a telephone. On motorways
    follow the marker arrows to the closest phone. They are never placed
    any more than a mile apart, on opposite sides of the motorway. Never
    cross the carriageway to use a phone.
  • While on the hard shoulder or telephoning, keep a sharp look-out
    and don�t accept lifts from strangers � wait for the police or
    breakdown service. Don�t wait in the car � there is a high risk
    of an accident. Wait on the embankment nearby with the front
    passenger door open. If someone approaches you or you feel
    threatened, lock yourself in the car and speak to them through a
    small gap in the window.
  • If you frequently have to travel after dark, or if your job
    involves visiting people at home, eg a health visitor or a district
    nurse, consider getting a mobile phone or ask your employer to
    provide one.

What men can do

Men can help by taking the issue of women�s safety seriously in
their everyday lives. Bear these points in mind:

  • If you are walking in the same direction as a woman on her own,
    don�t walk behind her � this may worry her. Cross the road and
    walk on the other side. This may reassure her that you are not
    following her.
  • Don�t sit too close to a woman on her own in a railway carriage
    or bus.
  • If you are thinking of chatting to woman waiting, for example, at
    a lonely bus stop, remember that she won�t know you mean no harm.
  • Realise how threatening actions such as staring, whistling,
    passing comments and jostling can be, particularly when you are one
    of a group of men.
  • Help female friends or family members by giving them a lift or
    walking them home when you can. If you do, make sure they are safely
    indoors before you leave.

If the worst happens

Think what you would do if someone attacked you. Could you fight
back, or would you avoid resisting and wait to escape? Only you can
decide whether to fight back, but preparing yourself for all
possibilities could provide a split-second advantage.

  • If someone threatens you, shout and scream for help and set off
    your personal attack alarm if you have one. This may unnerve the
    attacker and frighten him off.
  • You have every right to defend yourself, with reasonable force
    with items which you have with you like an umbrella, hairspray or
    keys can be used against the attacker. The law however doesn�t
    allow carrying anything which can be described as an offensive

If you have been attacked

Assaults and rapes are serious crimes, whether committed by a
stranger or someone you know.

If you have been assaulted or raped

  • Call the police straightaway. They need your help to catch the
    attacker. You can help the police by:
  • Taking the name or address of any witness
  • Trying to remember exactly what the attacker looked like
  • If a car was involved, try to note the colour, model and
    registration number.
  • You do not need to go to the police station to report an assault
    � you can be interviewed in your own home if you wish. These
    crimes are dealt with sympathetically, regardless of sex. Police
    stations have specially trained officers who will help and support
    you, and many areas have comfortable victim suites, separate from
    the police station, where you can be interviewed privately.
  • Although your immediate reaction will be to wash, try not to if
    you can possibly help it. It will destroy vital medical evidence
    which will help prove the case against the person who raped or
    assaulted you.
  • Should your case come to trial, by law your anonymity will be
    guaranteed if you are female, or under 18 years old. The law forbids
    newspapers to publish anything that might identify you. Also, as a
    general rule, you should not be asked about your previous sexual
    history in court.
  • If the violence is within your family, legal protection is
    possible under either civil or criminal law. In some cases for
    example, they can require a husband or partner not to enter your
    home, or even your neighbourhood.

Domestic violence

Most of the advice given so far has been to help you avoid assault by
strangers. Sadly, women are in fact most likely to be at risk from
people they know.

Violent attack, inside or outside the home, is a criminal offence.
Nobody has the right to abuse you physically, sexually or emotionally.
Victims may be made to feel responsible and guilty for the abuse. The
decision to take action against the abuser may be a difficult one, but
it is important to remember that you do not have to suffer in

In the short term, you can plan emergency measures. Talk to a
neighbour you trust � maybe arrange a signal, and ask them to contact
the police if they hear a disturbance in your home. You may even feel
more comfortable if an overnight bag is packed, with enough money for
petrol and a phone card, and if possible, for at least one night�s bed
and breakfast. Take extra keys for the house or car; a change of clothes
for yourself and your children and a list of emergency phone numbers.
You could leave this with a friend, or at your workplace. If you can,
take any legal or financial papers which you might need, along with any
treasured personal possessions, favourite toys for the children and any
medicines you may require.

In the longer term, you have to plan what you will do to alter
your situation. Remember that domestic violence is a crime and can be
dealt with through the police and courts. You should report any violent
attack to the police, who can help you. Many police forces now have
dedicated domestic violence units, which are staffed by specially
trained officers who will tell you what help is available, and will
support you in whatever you wish to do.

You can get legal advice from a solicitor. If you pursue the case
against your attacker, there are a number of possible legal outcomes,
ranging from court injunctions, and possible to a criminal conviction
and custodial sentence.

In addition, there are organisations which can offer support and
practical advice. Their services are confidential and in many cases,
completely free. (see HELP panel).


You can contact your local police station, or in an emergency
dial 999. These groups can help: 

VICTIM SUPPORT SCHEMES: If you have been attacked, they
can help you cope. Ask the police to put you in touch. 

SOCIAL SERVICES: If you or your children need to get
away from violent man, social workers at your local council can
put you in touch with a nearby refuge for women. Their 24-hour
emergency number will be in the phone book. 

RAPE CRISIS CENTRES: If you have been raped, they will
give you help and support. Find the nearest centre by calling 020
7837 1600. In Scotland 0131 556 9437. 

CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAUX: They can help you get legal
advice. Get the number of your nearest CAB in the local phone

14 East Sheen Avenue 
London SW14 8AS 

A national charity for personal safety. 

Tel 020 8392 1839 

WOMEN�S AID FEDERATION provide an advice service, and
set up refuges for victims of domestic violence. Their national
helpline is 0117 963 3542. 

BT offer an advice service and leaflet on how to deal with
malicious callers: Tel 0800 666 700, where a recorded message will
advise you. If you need further advice, dial 150 (free), between
8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday. 

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Personal possessions

A thief only needs a moment to make off with your valuables. Your
coat hung up in a restaurant, your briefcase beside your chair, even
your cheque book and cheque card left on the table while you pay the
bill� are all vulnerable if you look away for a second. So try to be
careful at all times.

Money and plastic cards

  • Don�t make it easy for pickpockets. Carry your wallet in an
    inside pocket, preferably one which can be fastened, not your back
    pocket. If someone bumps into you in a crowd, see if you still have
    your wallet or purse.
  • Cash is a favourite target for thieves, so try to avoid carrying
    large amounts. When on holiday abroad, take travellers� cheques.
  • If your credit card is stolen, tell the card company IMMEDIATELY.
    Keep the number handy. If you delay reporting the loss, it could
    lead to a crime being committed in your name, as a thief could make
    fraudulent use if your card. Thieves can use credit cards for over
    the counter and telephone purchases.
  • Never carry the personal identification number (PIN) with your
    cash dispensing cards. Always memorise your number, and never
    disclose it, not even to bank staff or close friends.
  • Sign new plastic cards as soon as they arrive, and cut up old ones
    when they expire.
  • The Association for Payment Clearing Services, through its Card
    Watch campaign, offers practical advice on how to look after your
    plastic cards. See the HELP panel at the end of this section.


Never let your handbag out of your sight. On public transport, keep
hold of it, with the clasp or zip shut so a thief cannot steal your
purse. In the office, keep it in a drawer, or in a corner near to you
and out of sight. Even in a car, keep it out of sight � if you have
the windows open or a door unlocked a thief may reach in when you stop
in traffic.

Savings plans and investments

Check whether your life assurance or saving plans documents, if
stolen, could be used to cash in the policy. If they can, your bank is
the best place to store them.


Only carry your passport when you need to. Thieves can sell stolen
passports and replacing them takes time and trouble.

Mobile phones

Theft of mobile phones is becoming more and more common but you can
help to minimise the risk.

  • Keep your phone out of sight, whether in the car or in the street.




Will advise you on how to protect your cash and credit

For lost or stolen cards, contact your bank or credit card
company. Check your last bank statement or phone book for the
number to ring. The following numbers may be useful: 

Barclays Bank 0160 423 0230 

Lloyds Bank 0800 585300 

Midland Bank 020 8450 3122 

National Westminster Bank 0113 277 8899 

TSB Card Services 0127 320 4471 

American Express 0127 369 6933 

Diners Club 0125 251 3500 

Card Watch Campaign 020 7734 6030 � for a free advice leaflet
on how to look after your plastic cards. 

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Racial harassment

Everyone can help to protect their community, family and their home
by taking the simple crime prevention measures described in this book.
But some crimes fall into a different category. They are committed on
purely racial grounds.

What is racial harassment?

Racial harassment is interpreted as any incident where the victim or
any other person (such as a witness or police officer) believes the
attacker had a racial motive. Racial harassment includes:

  • Assaults of any kind
  • Written/verbal threats or insults
  • Damage to property
  • Offensive graffiti

These incidents can happen anywhere � at home, at work, at school or
on the streets. If you are a victim of a racial attack or abuse, or
witness an incident, report it immediately to the police.

If an offence is committed and the offender is caught, provided there
is sufficient evidence, the police can prosecute. Alternatively, you may
take action in the civil courts or try to obtain damages or an order to
stop the offender repeating the behaviour.

What you can do to protect your family

At home

If you are threatened in your home or see anything suspicious nearby
� dial 999 and ask for the police. If you are a council tenant you
should also report all incidents to the local authority housing

Make sure your home is secure and follow the advice in the chapter
�Looking after your home�

If you feel at risk you can:

  • Replace broken windows with laminated glass.
  • Consider fitting a fireproof lidded container to your letterbox.

On the street

Useful advice provided in the chapter �Personal safety�

  • If you have been attacked ring the police immediately. Any details
    you remember will help with the investigation of your complaint.

At school

Children don�t always tell about racial harassment, as they don�t
want to worry their parents. Therefore you need to be aware and look for
signs that things are not right. Where other children in the school are
involved, report the incident to the head teacher first. You can also
contact the local education authority and the police.

At work

The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it illegal to discriminate against
any employee on racial grounds.

  • Report any incident at work to your employer and union
    representative. Keep a record of time, place and what was said. This
    is especially important if the harassment is persistent. You may
    also be able to get help from your local Racial Equality Council, or
    the Commission for Racial Equality.
  • If your own business is the target of a racial incident call the
    police. They can also give you general advice on how to make your
    premises more secure.

Your community

If a friend or neighbour has been the victim of a racial incident,
you can help by offering your support. Incidents of racial harassment
harm community relations for all. Consider joining or setting up a local
Neighbourhood Watch scheme or Residents� Association.


In an emergency, dial 999 and ask for the police. For general
advice contact your local police station to speak to your local
crime prevention officer or community relations officer. 


If you are a council tenant and have any problems, your local
authority housing department may be able to help. Many local
councils have community or race relations officers who offer
practical support and guidance to those who have suffered racial


Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can also give advice and put
you in touch with a victim support scheme. 

Relations Act 1976 and works towards the elimination of racial
discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunity between
people of different racial groups. Their address is: 

10-12 Allington Street, 
London SW1E 5EH 

Tel 020 7828 7022 

They will also have the number of your local Racial Equality

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Help for elderly people

Although you may think that elderly people are particularly at risk
from crime, statistically this isn�t true. Nevertheless, they can
often feel very vulnerable. There are things you can do to protect
elderly relatives or neighbours and to make them feel safer. You could
offer to fit locks, door viewers and chains. Just giving your time can
make elderly people feel better, especially if they live alone.

If you are elderly yourself, how can you stay safe?

  • Make sure you are safe when you are out.
  • Many of your possessions will have a lot of sentimental value.
    Protect them by making sure your home is safe and marking your
  • Never keep a large amount of money in the house. Put it in a bank,
    post office or building society. Don�t keep your cheque book and
    cheque card together; a thief who steals both could use the card to
    forge your signature on cheques.
  • Keep an eye out for neighbours and they will keep an eye out for
    you. If you see anything that worries you, tell the police. Join the
    Neighbourhood Watch scheme if there is one. Or talk to the crime
    prevention officer or beat officer at your local police station
    about setting one up.
  • Don�t let in strangers at the door. They may say they are
    builders who have noticed your roof needs repairing, or they could
    say they are from the water or gas board or salesmen who want to buy
    your furniture or pictures. If you aren�t sure, don�t let them
    in. See what to do under �Strangers at the door�.
  • You may be able to get help to pay for door and window locks and
    door chains. Ask the housing department of your council or the crime
    prevention officer or beat officer at your local police station.
  • Remember that even the best security equipment is useless unless
    it�s used � so always lock up even if you are just popping to
    the corner shop.
  • If you belong to a pensioners� lunch or social club, ask them to
    get the police or other speakers to give you advice on stopping




For help on a lot of problems, call the advice line on 0800 289


You can call this group for pensioners at their head office on
020 8679 8000. In Scotland 0131 228 5656. 


If you have been assaulted or robbed they can help you get over
it. Your local police will put you in touch with the nearest

You can get more advice on security when answering the door in
the leaflet �In doubt? Keep them out�, available from your
police station, or write to the Home Office, Public Relations
Branch, Room 151, 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London SW1H 9AT 

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Alcohol and drugs

Most people are aware that drinking to excess can damage their

There is also a clear link between excessive drinking and certain
types of crime. Some offences are alcohol-related by definition �
drink-driving � for example. But these are by no means the only ones
in which alcohol plays a large part. Public disorder, including football
hooliganism and vandalism is particularly associated with it. There is
also an indirect link, in that alcohol abuse may create the sort of
unhappy family from which children are more likely to turn to crime.

Drinking and driving

Alcohol is a major cause of accidents on the road. One in five
drivers killed in road accidents have drunk more than the legal limit
for driving. The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100
milliletres of blood. But there is no sure way of telling how much you
can drink before you reach this limit. It varies with each person
depending on weight, your sex, whether you�ve just eaten and what sort
of drinks you�ve had.

  • Your driving ability can be affected by just one or two drinks �
    even if you are below the legal limit, you can still be
    prosecuted if a police officer considers your driving has been
    affected by alcohol.
  • The best advice is never drink and drive.

 Alcohol and your children

Young children, like adults, need to know how to drink safely. By the
time they reach their teens, many will be drinking socially at parties,
clubs and discos. Although most do so sensibly, a number come to harm
through excessive drinking.

The risk is that, as inexperienced drinkers, young people may make
mistakes about when and how much is safe to drink. Heavy drinking and
drunkenness are more common in the late teens and early twenties than in
any other age group.

Their chances of coming to harm � hangovers and sickness, fights,
trouble with the police and accidents resulting in injury or even death
� are that much greater.

Here is some advice to help protect your children from these dangers:

  • Set a good example by drinking sensibly yourself. Children pick up
    their early knowledge of alcohol by watching adults and are strongly
    influenced by what they see.
  • Alcohol is often shown in a glamorous light. Point out that it has
    a negative as well as a positive side, and that it is nor essential
    to socialising and having fun.
  • Try to explain to your children why you want them to understand
    alcohol and drink sensibly. Try to discuss the subject, and to
    understand their views as well as putting your own.
  • Tell them it is alright to stop when they have had enough, or to
    have a soft drink. Encourage them to choose low alcohol rather than
    stronger drinks. Tell them they shouldn�t mix strong drinks.
  • Warn them of the risks. Drunkenness can lead to arguments, fights
    and trouble with the police. Discourage them from drinking in the
    street, especially in groups, as this can be intimidating to other
  • Remind them that driving is much more dangerous after any
    amount of alcohol.
  • Make a drink � and � drive pact with your children
  • Ask your children to agree:
    • Never to drink alcohol if they intend to drive
    • Never to accept a lift from someone who�s been drinking
    • To call a cab which you (parents) will pay for if they can�t
      use public transport to get home.

 Keeping your children safe from drugs

Taking drugs like heroin, cocaine or LSD is illegal and can be very
dangerous. If your children take illegal drugs it can lead to other
crimes. They may steal or shoplift, for example, to get money to pay for
drugs. And while feeling �high� they may turn to other crimes, like
stealing and driving cars, or even more serious offences.

If your child takes drugs you may notice he or she:

  • Changes mood suddenly;
  • Is bad tempered or aggressive;
  • Eats less;
  • Stops sport, hobbies, schoolwork or seeing friends;
  • Gets sleepy or tells lies.

Of course, these are all signs that could be part of the process of
growing up. They don�t automatically mean your child if taking drugs.

Look for other signs:

  • Money and things disappear;
  • Smells, stains or marks on the body or clothes;
  • Powders, tablets, burnt tinfoil or needles.

If your child is taking drugs the dangers are from accidents while
intoxicated, accidental overdose or becoming addicted. Drugs also have
side-effects which include frightening hallucinations, mental and
emotional disorders, infections, sores, blood poisoning and other
illnesses. If you think your child is taking drugs, see HELP panel for

In an emergency

If your child overdoses:

  • Get him or her fresh air
  • Turn them on their side
  • Ring a doctor or 999 for an ambulance
  • Take any powders or tablets near your child to the hospital.


Solvents are found in products like glue, lighter fuel, paint,
aerosols and petrol. When their vapours are inhaled, they produce
similar effect to alcohol.

In this country it is an offence to sell solvents to someone under 18
if you have reason to believe they intend to inhale them.

Sniffing the vapours from solvents can depress bodily functions like
breathing and heart rate, and can cause disorientation and
unconsciousness. Solvent sniffers can lose control of their behaviour,
and become more reckless and less able to deal with danger.

It can cause death by suffocation, or from fright or exertion through
the effect it has on the heart. Someone who has sniffed until they are
unconscious can die through choking on their own vomit.


There are many organisations you can contact for advice on
alcohol or drugs � some are listed below: 


Talk to your doctor, or a teacher, social worker, probation
officer or citizens advice bureau. Or contact your local health
education unit (the number will be in the phone book under Health

COUNSELLING AGENCIES: The above may be able to put you
in touch with counselling agencies. If not, try the


Waterbridge House, 32-36 Loman Street, London SE1 0EE. Tel 020
7 928 7377. A national charity working to promote sensible
drinking and to improve services to help problem drinkers. They
produce a booklet �Alcohol and Your Children�. Contact them
for information or advice or to be put in touch with a local
alcohol advisory service in your area. 


Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9TX. Tel 020 7383
3833. Produce educational material, including leaflets on drugs
and alcohol. Available through GP surgeries and health promotion


1 Hulme Place, The Crescent, Salford M5 4QA. Tel 0161 745 8925.
Drug and alcohol advice and education and organisation. Offers
information and training.



Signs to look for:

  • Chemical smell on clothes or breath
  • Spots around nose and mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • �Drunken� behaviour
  • Secretiveness about their activities
  • Frequent and persistent headaches, sore throat or runny nose
    (whatever the reason, a visit to the GP would be wise)
  • Wide swings in mood or behaviour

As with drugs, not all these signs are necessarily a result of
solvent abuse. Remember that only very few young people abuse solvents.
Don�t jump to conclusions.

In an emergency

If your child is drowsy or unconscious:

  • Keep him calm
  • Remove any solvents and make sure there is plenty of fresh air
  • Turn him on his side
  • Call a doctor or ambulance. Although he may recover before they
    arrive, it�s better to be safe than sorry.

Do�s and don�ts

  • Do examine your own attitudes and behaviour. It is more likely
    that young people will turn to drugs if they come from a home where
    adults are heavy drinkers and smokers.
  • Do explain to your children why you take drugs your doctor has
    prescribed, such as sleeping pills.
  • Do be prepared. Talk to your husband or wife about how you will
    feel if you find out your child is on drugs. Discuss it with other
    parents or school teachers if there seems to be a problem locally.
  • Do make the time to talk to your children about drugs. Don�t try
    to frighten them, but encourage them to talk freely. Let them know
    that you will help if they have problems.
  • Take an interest in your child�s own interests and concerns.
    This includes school and leisure activities. Check out any school
    problems as soon as possible.
  • Don�t be over suspicious of your children. It could push them
    into drug-taking instead of away from it.



Leaflets on drugs are available from the Health Publications
Unit, No 2 Site, Heywood Stores, Manchester Road, Heywood,
Lancashire OL10 2PZ � including �Drugs & Solvents � you
and your child�; �Drugs � a parents� guide�; �Solvents
� a parents� guide�. 

SCODA (Standing Conference on Drug Abuse), Waterbridge
House, 32-36 Loman Street, London SE1 0EE. Tel 020 7928 9500. They
have a full list of local services throughout the country. 

RE-SOLV (The Society for the Prevention of Solvent and
Volatile Substance Abuse). 30A High Street, Stone, Staffordshire
ST15 8AW. Tel 0178 581 7885. Deals solely with solvent misuse.
They publish leaflets, booklets and videos and know about local
agencies who can help. 

ADFAM National, 5th Floor, Epworth House, 25
City Road, London EC1Y 1AA. Tel 020 7638 3700. A charity for the
families and friends of drug users. It provides a National
Helpline offering information and confidential support. 

YOUTH ACCESS: Magazine Business Centre, 11 Newark
Street, Leicester LE1 5SS. Tel 0116 255 8763. Mainly for the
under-25s. Will put caller in touch with a local agency. 

FAMILIES ANONYMOUS: The Doddington & Rollo Community
Association, Charlotte Despard Avenue, Battersea, London SW11 5JE.
Tel 020 7498 4680.


Back to top 

Keeping your children safe

A playground bully, an adult stranger, even a familiar grown-up, can
represent a threat to a child � physically or sexually. Many children
are taught how to stay safe, often through special lessons ar school.
This is what the KIDSCAPE charity suggest that parents should teach
their children:

  • To be safe. Tell your children they have the right to be
    safe. No-one can take that away.
  • To protect their own bodies. Children must know that their
    body belongs to them, especially the private parts covered by their
  • To say no. Tell your children it�s alright to say no if
    someone tries to hurt them. A lot of children are told to always do
    what grown-ups tell them.
  • To get help against bullies. Bullies pick on younger, more
    vulnerable children. Tell children to get friends to help them, and
    to say no without fighting. Make sure they tell a grown-up. Tell
    them to give up something a bully wants, like a bike, if they are
    going to get hurt. Tell them you will not be angry if they come home
    without it.
  • To tell. Tell your children they must always tell you what
    has happened and that you will not be angry with them.
  • To be believed. If your child wants your help, they need to
    know they will be believed and supported. This is especially true in
    the case of sexual assault, as children rarely lie about it.
  • To not keep secrets. Child molesters known to the child
    often say that a kiss or a touch is �our secret�. Tell your
    children that some secrets should never be kept, even if they said
    they wouldn�t tell.
  • To refuse touches. Tell your children that they can say no
    to touching or kissing is they don�t like it. If someone touches
    them and tells them to keep it a secret, they must tell you. Never
    force your child to hug or kiss anyone.
  • To not talk to strangers. Most well meaning adults will not
    approach a child who is on his own, unless he is obviously lost or
    distressed. Tell your children never to talk to strangers, and to
    politely ignore any approach from a stranger. Get them to tell you
    if a stranger tries to talk to them.
  • To break rules. Tell your children they can break rules to
    stay safe. They can run away, scream, lie or kick to get away from

Safety tips for teenagers

If you are doing a part-time job or out in the evening, try to
follow these basic safety rules:

  • Be sure your parents know where you are, and how to contact you.
  • Go out accompanied by friends, and return home with them. If you
    go out alone, arrange transport for your return journey before you
    leave. Get a loft or taxi there and back.
  • If you are our and your lift or taxi doesn�t turn up, ask to use
    a telephone to find out why not. Ask to stay until your lift turns
    up. When phoning, ask for the taxi driver�s name over the phone ,
    and check this with the driver when he or she arrives.
  • Don�t take a lift with someone you have just met.
  • If you are looking for casual jobs, like babysitting, do it
    through family and friends. Be careful about answering
  • If you answer an advert, go with a parent or friend on the first
  • If you are babysitting, get a number where you can call the child�s
    parents. If anyone comes to the house, don�t let them in. Don�t
    tell telephone callers you are alone; ask them to ring back. It
    helps to keep a list of emergency numbers in case of problems.
  • On a paper round, never go into a stranger�s house or take a
  • Wherever you are, make sure you know how to make an emergency
    telephone call and the quickest way out.

Message to parents

If your teenage son or daughter is going out for the evening, check
their transport arrangements. If necessary, take them and bring them
back. It may be inconvenient, but it will be worth it for your peace of
mind and safety.

Getting a babysitter

It can be difficult to find a good babysitter. Parents must carefully
consider any person left in charge of their children as child molesters
may advertise themselves as babysitters. When choosing a babysitter, if
you can, avoid using newspapers and try to find someone you know:

  • Get a trusted friend or family member that you and your child feel
    comfortable and happy with.
  • Ask friends to recommend someone.
  • Make arrangements with friends to babysit each other�s children.
  • If you must use a stranger, ask them to put you in touch with
    someone they have worked for before. Preferably find someone over
  • See if your child reacts badly when you say a babysitter they know
    is coming.
  • If you are worried, ring homw and ask to speak to your child. Be
    wary is the babysitter makes excuses and stops you talking to your
  • You should certainly not mistrust all male babysitters, but be
    careful of men who always volunteer to babysit and who are more
    interested in your child�s friendship than yours. This could be a
    warning sign.
  • Give the babysitter emergency telephone numbers and other
    contacts. If you don�t have a telephone, make sure the sitter
    knows where to find one.



Many police forces and school organise Junior Citizen or
Crucial Crew schemes for junior school children. They teach them
how to cope with everyday dangers both in the home and outside.
They also encourage good citizenship. Ask your children�s school
or your local community police officer about these programmes. You
can also contact Crime Concern for information about Crucial

The police and social services will investigate any suspected
case of child abuse, ill treatment or neglect. If you believe a
child has been abused in any way or put in fear of an assault,
contact them or the NSPCC immediately. There are a lot of groups
who can help. Your doctor may be able to tell you which one is

The London head office is n 020 7825 2500, or look
for local branches in your phone directory. 

They are at 

41 Polwarth Terrace 
Edinburgh EH11 1NU. 
Tel 0131 337 8539. 

EXPLORING PARENTHOOD: A national charity who offer
factsheets and a counselling service. You can contact them at
Latimer Education Centre, 194 Freston Road, London W10 6TT. Tel
020 8960 1678.

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Out and about with your child

It�s important to teach young children how to protect themselves
when out and about. Statistically, the risks to children from a stranger
deliberately harming them are very low, and they are more at risk from
road traffic or accidents from falling down stairs, etc. It�s still a
good idea to teach children some family safety rules, including how to
protect themselves � without making them frightened of everyone
or going into too much detail about the dangers.

The following advice is reproduced by kind permission of the Child
Accident Prevention Trust:

  • Remember that keeping children safe is everybody�s business.
    Take notice if you see a child alone or in distress, and do
    something to help. Be aware that they may be frightened and told not
    to speak to strangers.
  • Tell your child not to talk to anyone they don�t know well when
    they�re out.
  • They should never go anywhere, with anyone, without first telling
    you or the grown-up who is in charge of them.
  • They should always tell you if someone approaches them. Young
    children need to be reassured that nothing bad will happen if they
    tell you about anyone who does approach them.
  • Teach your children what to do if they ever get lost. Tell them to
    go up to a police officer, someone working in a shop, or someone who
    has young children with them. Tell them not to wander too far from
    where they last saw you.
  • Keep your child close to you. If you have a baby in a pram or
    buggy, don�t leave it parked while you shop. Watching it through
    the window isn�t enough.
  • Don�t leave your baby in the charge of another child. He needs
    an adult to look after him.
  • If a library, clinic or any public service won�t let you take a
    pram or buggy in, complain � but take the baby out of the pram
  • A toddler will be safe in a backpack, if he�s not too heavy.
  • Use reins for your toddler. If you start using them before he�s
    quite steady, they�ll save him some falls and he�ll regard them
    as friends. Don�t assume that holding hands is just as good. A
    toddler�s tiny hand can slip through your fingers if he�s trying
    to escape!
  • Don�t leave small children in unsupervised play areas in shops
    and shopping centres. You, or a trusted minder, need to stay with
    them at all time.
  • Don�t ask strangers to �keep an eye� on children, even while
    you queue at a caf� or go to the toilet.
  • With all children, teach them their address and telephone number ,
    so that they can be brought back to you more easily if they get




They are at 152 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9TR. Tel
020 7730 3300. 


0800 1111. This is a free telephone line offering confidential
counselling for children in trouble or danger, or for worried
parents. You can write to Childline at Freepost 1111, London N1


MOTHERS OF ABUSED CHILDREN: 0169 733 1432 after 6.30pm.
Based in Cumbria, provides telephone counselling for victims,
parents and people who have been abused in the past. 


Signal Point, Station Road, Swindon, Wiltshire SN1 1FE. Tel
0179 351 4596 



Westbury House, 57 Hart Road, Thundersley, Essex SS7 3PD. Tel
0126 875 7077. Offers help and advice to parents who are under
stress, or experiencing difficulties with a child. 


THE SAMARITANS: a charity that helps the lonely or
suicidal. Numbers are in the local phone book or the operator will
put you through. You can get help on the phone or face to face.

Back to top

Looking after your Home

A lot of burglaries can be prevented. Most are committed by
opportunist thieves, and in two burglaries out of ten the thief does not
have to force his way in because a door or window has been left open.
Burglars like easy opportunities. They don�t like locked windows
because breaking glass attracts attention. They don�t like security
deadlocks on doors because they cannot open them even from the inside
and they have to get out through a window. Simple precautions like these
do work. So check the security of your home against the advice on these
pages, and strengthen the weak spots as soon as possible. A small
outlay, will, in many cases, make your home much more secure � and buy
peace of mind into the bargain.

Strangers: Be alert to people loitering in residential
streets. If it is no one you recognise, call the police.

Burglar alarms: Visible burglar alarms make burglars think

Front Door Roof: A thief could reach first floor windows from
this roof � so fit window locks.

Gates and Fences: A high wall or fence at the back of a house
can put off a burglars. Check for weak spots where a thief could get in.
A thorny hedge along a boundary an also be a useful deterrent. Make sure
the front of the house is still visible to passers by, so that a burglar
can�t work unseen.

Small Windows: Even small windows like casement windows,
skylights or bathroom fanlights need locks. A thief can get in through
any gap larger than a human head.

Spare Keys: Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like
under a doormat, in a flowerpot or inside a letterbox � a thief will
look there first.

Garages and Sheds: Never leave a garage or garden shed
unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house. Lock
tools and ladders away so that a thief cannot use them to break in.

Looking after your flat

Make sure your front door is strong. It should be as strongly built
as the main outside door of the block. If it isn�t, get another one or
ask your local council to do it. Fit hinge bolts which stop someone
pulling the door from its hinges. And fix a special steel strip into the

If your block does not have a telephone entry system, talk to the
landlord or council about putting one in. This may be easier if you get
together with other tenants to form a tenants� association.

If you do have a telephone entry system, don�t let strangers in or
hold the door open for someone who is arriving as you are leaving.

Side passage: Stop a thief getting to the back of the house
� where he can work with less chance of being seen � by fitting a
strong, high gate across the passage. If you share an alleyway with a
neighbour, talk to him or her about sharing the cost.

Shared accommodation

If you live in a student halls of residence, a bedsit or some other
type of shared accommodation, you should try to follow all the home
security measures in this booklet. You also need to be careful to keep
your room locked when you go out to use the kitchen or bathroom. Don�t
leave keys in your door, or lying about in any common room. Avoid
putting your name or room number on your keyring in case it gets lost or

  • Never leave cash or valuables on open view in your room; lock them
    out of sight. Try to limit the amount of jewellery or electrical
    equipment you keep with you.
  • Always lock main entrance doors behind you. Try to avoid letting
    anyone you don�t know into the building along with you. Be aware
    of any strangers around the corridors to the building, and report
    any suspicious activity to the warden, security staff or the police.

Strangers at the door

  • The best defences against a doubtful caller are a viewer or
    spyhole in the door and a stout door chain. Remember, if in doubt,
    keep them out.
  • Always make sure that visitors are who they say they are. If they
    say they are from the police, gas, or electricity board, as to see
    their card. Check it by ringing their local office. Don�t use a
    number on their card, but look it up on the phone book.
  • If you are worried, ring the police.
  • Don�t let the caller stop you doing these things by saying he or
    she is in a hurry. A genuine caller won�t mind waiting outside
    with the door closed while you ring. Remember to keep the door chain
    on until you are sure your caller is genuine.
  • Be wary of salespeople who call unannounced and try to persuade
    you to spend your money on an investment scheme. Such schemes don�t
    guarantee you will make any more money, and you could end up
    losing it. Check with the Securities and Investments Board (Tel 020
    7929 3652) that the salesperson is a member of an approved trade
    body. If they are not, you will not be entitled to any compensation.
    Be particularly careful of offers from overseas, as you will
    probably not be able to pursue the case through the courts in this
    country if you are defrauded.
  • Always seek advice from an independent source. Never sign
    anything on the spot.

Burglar alarms and safes

If your possessions are worth a lot of money or you live in an area
with a lot of burglaries, you should consider a burglar alarm or a safe.
Ranging from inexpensive DIY kits to sophisticated systems costing
hundreds of pounds, there are scores of burglar alarms on the market.
Quality fitted alarms will certainly be a deterrent to burglars. Easily
installable �wire-free� alarms are now available whereby sensors
fitted around the house transmit radio detection signals to a control
system. These systems usually take 3-4 hours to fit. Wired alarms are
cheaper but take longer � around a day � to install.

Get specialist advice and a number of quotes. Consult your insurance
company for the companies they recommend. The system installed should
meet BS4737 (professionally installed) or BS6707 (DIY).


Good lighting can deter a thief. Some exterior lights have light
sensors or an infra-red sensor that switches the light on for a short
time when it detects something in its range. Sensors can be bought
separately to convert an existing outdoor light into a security one.


If your front and back doors are not strong and safe, neither is your
home. First of all, make sure the doors themselves are of strong, solid
core construction, 44mm thick.

Glass panels are especially vulnerable. If any of your doors seem
flimsy, replace them with solid core as above. If you are a council
tenant, call the housing department about it. Fit back and front doors
with a five-lever mortice deadlock, to BS3621 or equivalent (seek advice
from your local master locksmith). A deadlock can only be opened with a
key, so a thief cannot smash a nearby glass panel to open the door from
the inside. If the thief enters the property through a window they can�t
carry your belongings out through the door.

If you are intending to install a PVC door, before you buy it, check
with the manufacturer that a door chain will be fitted. It can be very
difficult and expensive to have a chain fitted to an existing PVC door.

Fan light locks have a metal bolt to secure the metal arm used to
open and close the window.

Door viewers: They mean you can see who callers are before
opening the door.

Front and back doors: Fit a five-lever mortice deadlock � to
BS3621 � and use it.


  • DIY shops sell inexpensive key-operated locks to fit all kinds of
    window. If you are a tenant you may be able to get the council or
    landlord to pay to have them fitted for you. A lock forces the thief
    to break the glass, and risk attracting attention. Secure the most
    vulnerable windows first: ground floor windows, windows which can�t
    be seen from the street and windows with can be reached from a
    drainpipe or flat roof. If you are getting new glass for your
    windows, consider laminated glass � a thief will find it hard to
    break. As a last resort, think about security grilles for your
  • Louvre windows are especially vulnerable because the slats can
    easily be removed from the frame. Glue the slats in place with an
    epoxy resin, and fit a special louvre lock. Better still, replace
    them with fixed glass.

The lock shown here locks the two windows together. A more discreet
version is embedded into the wooden frame. Or there are devices to stop
the window opening beyond a certain limit.

Casement locks make it impossible to open the window without the
correct key.

Patio doors

You should get specialist advice on fitting locks to patio doors.
They should have special locks fitted top and bottom unless fitted with
a multi-locking system. Also install an anti-lift device to stop a thief
simply lifting the door off its rail. Fit security mortice locks to
french doors, and mortice bolts to the top and bottom of both doors.

With all security, consideration must be given to the risk of fire,
and means of escape. Fit a smoke detector, conforming to BS5446.

Patio door locks need to be fitted top and bottom.

Secured by design

If you are buying a new home, look out for the Secured by Design
symbol. This scheme has been developed to help homebuyers identify
builders who have consulted the police to incorporate crime prevention
measures. Standards cover estate design, home security measures and
security lighting, and alarm systems.

When you are away from home

Most burglaries happen when a house or flat is empty. Don�t
advertise your absence when you�re on holiday, or even out at work or

  • Use time switches � available from DIY shops � to turn on the
    lights, radio and other appliances when you�re out. This will make
    it look as if your house is occupied.
  • Don�t let your TV or video show through a window.
  • Draw the curtain if you are going out for the evening.
  • Get a friend or neighbour to look after your home when you are on
    holiday � to collect mail left in the letterbox, adjust the
    curtains, sweep up leaves, even mow the lawn and generally make the
    house look lived in.
  • If you go away, cancel the milk and newspapers.

Mark your things with your postcode

Thieves like portable, high value, easily saleable goods like TVs,
videos, hi-fi, home computers, cameras, jewellery, silverware and
antiques. You can mark these things with your postcode and the number of
your house or flat. You can get inexpensive kits to do this from DIY
stores and stationers. You can also permanently etch items with a
special etching or engraving tool. This is preferable to ultra-violet or
�invisible� marking which can fade or be removed. You may want to
share the cost with neighbours or friends.

Keep a list, too, of the serial numbers of your television, video and
hi-fi equipment. The numbers will be useful if you need to make an
insurance claim.

  • The first half of the postcode indicates your town and area such
    as: NT42.
  • The second half pinpoints the locality within that area, and part
    of a street, such as: NT42 9WA.
  • Mark your valuables using the postcode followed by your house
    number such as: NT42 9WA 7.

The police will let you have a sticker for your window saying your
possessions are marked. This will put off burglars. If you have things
like jewellery or silver which you don�t want to mark, take colour
photos of them to include hallmarks and other identifying marks. If your
property is stolen, this will help the police identify it if it turns


HOUSING DEPARTMENT: Of your local council � if you are
a council tenant, some councils help pay for extra locks and
alarms, especially for pensioners and the disabled, or there may
be a special lock-fitting scheme. If not, they or the police may
tell you about any run by a voluntary or other local organisation
in your area. 

HOME INSURANCE COMPANIES: Some firms offer lower
premiums to people who fit security locks and alarms. Some also
offer discounts if you belong to a Neighbourhood or Home Watch
scheme. Ask the firm whether it minds which systems you buy. 

BUILDING SOCIETY OR BANK: They may be willing to lend
you the money for extra security, and to add it to your mortgage.
Good security can increase the value of your property. 

CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE: Contact the Master Locksmiths
Association, Units 4-5, Woodford Halse Business Park, Woodford
Halse, Daventry, Northants NN11 6PZ, Tel 0132 762 255, for the
name of an approved locksmith in your area. 

All police forces have officers trained in crime prevention �
contact your local station for advice. You can also get advice on
how to secure your home or business premises. 

You can get further advice on home security and postcoding your
property in the leaflets �Beat the Burglar�, �Coded for
Keeps� and �Peace of Mind When You�re Away�. Available
from your local police station or write to the Home Office Public
Relations Branch, Room 151, 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London SW1H

Back to top

The things you own


Over a quarter of all recorded crimes are car thefts or theft from
cars � like stereos and mobile phones. It�s a problem that affects
us all no matter where we live. It diverts much police time and can have
serious and sometimes fatal consequences.

Keeping your car safe

If your car is stolen or broken into, it could mean weeks of
expensive inconvenience � and losing your no-claims bonus.

It may be difficult to protect your car from a determined
professional thief, but most car crime is opportunist and you can out
them off with vigilance and relatively cheap security precautions.

Don�t be wise after the event � take the following tips to
turn the tide against car crime.


  • Never leave a car door unlocked or a window or sunroof open �
    even when just going into a shop for a moment or two.
  • Don�t leave any belongings in your car. A thief won�t know
    that a bag or coat doesn�t contain something valuable and might
    break a window to get at it. If you can�t take them with you,
    never leave things on display � lock them in the boot.
  • Security mark your stereo and if it�s removable, always take it
    with you. Make a note of the serial number and keep it in a safe
  • Don�t leave credit cards or cheque books in the glove
    compartment. 1 in 5 stolen cheque and credit cards are taken from
  • Never leave your vehicle documents in the car � they could help
    a thief to sell it.
  • Remove the ignition key and engage the steering lock � even when
    parking in your own driveway or garage � and don�t forget to
    lock the garage door.
  • Always try to park in a well-lit, open location.
  • Double-check that all car doors, windows, sunroof and boot are
    locked before leaving it. And put your aerial down to stop it being


  • Etch the car�s registration number on all glass surfaces �
    windows, headlamps, sunroof. Thieves don�t want the expense of
  • Fit lockable wheel nuts and fuel cap.
  • Fit an anti-theft device � and use it every time you park. There
    are many types of car security device on the market � from
    steering wheel and clutch pedal locks to sophisticated electronic
    protection. Alarms should conform to BS6803. Check before you buy
    � is it Sold Secure Pact Approved?

A lockable petrol cap forces thieves to abandon your car when it runs
out of petrol.

If you have an alarm turn it on every time you park.

An additional immobilising device is worth considering.

Your insurance company may also be able to give you advice on
approved security devices.

Sold Secure Pact

  • It is the role of Sold Secure to test and provide professional and
    accurate advice regarding effective security products to commercial
    customers, the insurance industry, the Home Office, the Police and
    the public.
  • Sold Secure is a non-profit making company dedicated to reducing
    the risk of theft by the assessment of security products. Sold
    Secure was established in 1992 by Northumbria and Essex Police with
    the help and backing of the Home Office. It is now administered by
    the Master Locksmiths Association.
  • The scheme has close ties with a number of constabularies and
    insurers who provide regular information regarding the methods of
    theft and the tools utilised by criminals in their area. This helps
    to maintain an up to date specification and means security products
    can be assessed in the light of the risk they are likely to
    encounter when in use.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers can apply to have their products
    approved by Sold Secure. Products which have been satisfactorily
    assessed may bear the Sold Secure Quality Mark. Information on these
    approved products is circulated by Sold Secure to crime prevention
    officers, insurance companies, the media, the Home Office and the
    public, and is available free to those who require it.

Car parks

  • When parking in a public car park � look for one that is well
    supervised, with restricted entry and exit points, good lighting and
    security cameras. In multi-storey car parks, choose a widely visible
  • Car parks are a target for thieves and a source of fear for many
    people. A police scheme � �Secured Car Parks� � aims to make
    car parks safer, more attractive places � by setting high crime
    prevention standards of internal design and layout. Those measuring
    up are entitled to display the official gold or silver �Secured
    Car Parks� emblem. To find out about �Secured Car Parks� in
    your area, contact the crime prevention officer at your local police

Used cars

  • If you buy a used car from a reputable dealer and it turns out to
    be stolen, there should be no problem.
  • Be cautious with �small ads�. Go to the seller�s house �
    to make sure he or she lives there!
  • Check that the car�s chassis and vehicle identity numbers match
    those on the documents � and that the registration document hasn�t
    been tampered with.
  • Be wary if the seller can�t produce the registration document
    � though he or she may have a valid excuse.
  • If you buy through an auction, take advantage of indemnity
    clauses. A small fee is charged, but you are protected should you
    find you�re bought a stolen vehicle.

The �Hyena� campaign was launched in 1992 � with the
long-term objective of making car crime as socially unacceptable as
drink-driving. It�s vital that we all continue to work together to
reduce opportunities for the car criminal.


Over 100,000 bicycles are reported stolen every year. They are a
popular target with thieves because they can easily be sold. They should
be locked whenever you leave them, even if you are just going into a
shop. Mark the frame with your postcode. This will help the police get
it back to you if they find it � they have thousands of unclaimed
unidentified bicycles. Find out if your local police station, or cycle
dealer does this free.

Get your bike frame marked with your postcode and stick on a �Coded
Cycle� sticker to let thieves know.

Get a �recorded cycle� form from your local police station or
bicycle dealer and take a photograph. Record all your bike�s details
so that if your bike is stolen and then recovered, the police will be
able to match it to the description.

The best kind of bicycle locks are made of a loop of solid metal.
Chains deter casual thieves but can be easily cut with the right

Always lock your bike to something solid like a lamp-post or
railings. If you have a quick release wheels, take off the front wheel
and lock it to the frame and back wheel.


Motorcycles are a target for both opportunist and professional
thieves, who steal bikes for resale, or for the market in motorcycle
parts. Take the same measures for parking as with cars.

  • Always lock up your motorbike when you leave it. Put the steering
    lock on, and wherever possible use a steel cable, padlock or U-lock
    to attach it to an immovable object or another motorcycle.
  • Fit an alarm, available from DIY or bike shops. Some shops and
    dealers offer discounts on security devices when you buy a
    motorcycle or other equipment.
  • Mark your motorcycle with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN),
    registration number or your postcode. You can do this with an
    engraving or etching kit, or use a security marker pen. If you use
    indelible ink or an ultraviolet pen, remember to renew the markings
    ever few weeks before they begin to fade.
  • Anti-theft schemes encourage motorcyclists and others to spot
    motorcycle theft and generate new ideas to tackle it. Contact your
    local police crime prevention officer or a motorcycle support group,
    such as the Motorcycle Action Group, for information about local
    groups and advice on how to set up new ones.

Use a high tension steel cable, padlock or U-lock to secure your
motorcycle to an immovable object when you park.


AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION: Local offices will be in the
phone book. Head office is at Fanum House, Basingstoke, Hants RG21
2EA. Tel 0125 620 123. 

ROYAL AUTOMOBILE CLUB: Local offices will be in the
phone book. Head office is at M1 Cross Road, Brent Terrace, London
NW2 1LT. Tel 020 8452 8000. 

INSURANCE COMPANIES: will give you advice and may offer
reduced premiums on vehicles fitted with security devices. 

SOLD SECURE: 5C Great Central Way, Woodford Halse,
Daventry, Northants, NN11 3PZ. Tel: 01327 264687, Fax: 01327
264686 or see their website at

MOTORCYCLE ACTION GROUP: run a reward scheme for
information on thefts of motorbikes and parts. Contact them at PO
Box 750, Birmingham B30 3BA, or ring the hotline on 0121 604

The following leaflets are available at your local police
station, or write to the Home Office Public Relations Branch, Room
151, 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London SW1H 9AT: �Keep your care
secure�; �How to buy a car and keep it�; �The car buyer�s
guide�; �Put the brakes on bike theft � advice on motorcycle
security�; �Lock it, list it, don�t lose it � advice on
bicycle security�.

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Your community

The first part of this booklet showed you how you can help to
protect your family, yourself and your possessions. But there is a lot
you can do outside your home and family to prevent crime. You can take
action by getting together with other people and working in partnership
with the police to reduce crime in your area. You can help in simply
being alert and observant when out and about in your neighbourhood �
or you could apply to join the Special Constabulary. Anyone can play
some part, however great or small:

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are a way for people in an area to get
together to help prevent crime and make their neighbourhood a safer
place. Neighbourhood Watch is known as Home Watch in some areas, but
both work along similar lines and are built on the same idea � of
looking after one another and the neighbourhood.

How does it work?

Groups can vary in size, depending on the area and what people want.
They target local concerns � like burglary, vandalism or graffiti and
devise ways of dealing with them. Individual members decide how active
they want to be in the scheme. You could become a committee member or
even co-ordinator of a group � or your part could be just keeping an
eye on your neighbours� houses while they�re away.

Schemes develop close links with the police, who can provide advice
and information about local problems. Well-run schemes can have a big
impact on local crime.

Street Watch

You could also consider joining or setting up a Street Watch scheme
� a new idea to use your eyes and ears to help the community.
Neighbourhood Watch crime prevention activities are usually centred
around people�s homes and the immediate surrounding area. Street Watch
is a separate scheme to take this a step further. In agreement with
local police and local people, members work out specific routes and
regularly walk their chosen area.

How does it work?

Street Watch members are ordinary citizens with no police powers. If
they spot anything suspicious, all they are asked to do is report it to
the police. They can also give active support to vulnerable people by
offering transport or escort on foot.

Groups are managed by a co-ordinator who keeps a list of volunteers
and provides advice, guidance and support � in consultation with the
local police. Street Watch can help reduce crime because members
actively use their local knowledge when out and about in their

Street Watch Guidelines

A set of guidelines for Street Watch activity has been agreed with
the police � you can get a copy from your local police station. The
guidelines include a basic set of �Do�s and Don�ts�, which warn
against intervening in an incident. �Look, listen and report� �
but don�t �have a go� and always stay within the law.

Other �Watch� schemes

Watches need not be confined to residential neighbourhoods. For
instance, Business Watches can be very effective in the high streets and
industrial estates. Farm Watches can encourage farmers to keep an eye on
one another�s livestock and machinery. Boat Watches can greatly
improve the security of marinas and harbours.

Neighbourhood Constables

Neighbourhood Constables are a variation of the existing Special
Constables, who are police-trained, uniformed volunteers, with the same
powers as a regular officer. Their duties are varied and they can be
asked to work anywhere in their police force area.

In contrast, Neighbourhood Constables only work in a specific area
� their own neighbourhood, so they become a regular figure on the
local scene. In rural areas they may be called Parish Constables, but
the idea is the same � to provide more police on the beat, with all
the advantages a police presence brings.

Their main duties are foot patrols of a neighbourhood area.
Neighbourhood Constables also keep in regular contact with community
groups. Neighbourhood Watch and Street Watch schemes, schoolchildren and
local traders � promoting initiatives, helping groups and offering

If you want to join

Contact your local police or call 0345 272 272 for a Specials
information pack � and note �Neighbourhood Constable� on your

You�ll find out more about how to help the police reduce crime in
your neighbourhood in the booklet �Partners Against Crime� (see HELP
panel at the end of this section).

Crime Prevention Panels

Crime Prevention Panels are locally organised groups who work in
partnership with the police to identify local crime problems, and
initiate local crime prevention measures to deal with them. Panel
members are usually local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators, teachers,
local business people or local media representatives. All bring their
own particular area of expertise to the work of the panel.

Panel activities are generally related to particular crime problems
in the area. Panels will draw up a programme of work, and implement
appropriate measures, eg fundraising to pay for security devices for
elderly people�s homes or organising a car window-etching campaign.

Panels can be started by the local police, local business people or
community groups (see HELP panel at the end of this section).

Youth Action Groups

These are the young person�s version of a crime prevention panel.
They are usually attached to a senior panel, or a local school, and deal
with areas of crime which are most likely to affect young people such as
drug abuse and shoplifting (you can get more advice on youth panels from
Crime Concern. See HELP panel at the end of this section).

Voluntary organisations

Many voluntary organisations support and develop crime prevention
initiatives in local communities:

  • Local Councils for Voluntary Service (CVS) � provide
    advice and support to community groups on a number of issues,
    including local crime prevention initiatives (see HELP panel).
  • Help the Aged and Age Concern � raise funds, educate and
    administer projects to help provide for the security needs of
    elderly people (see section on �The Elderly� for contact
  • NACRO (the National Association for the Care and Resettlement
    of Offenders)
    � take on crime problems by involving local
    residents and agencies on a project basis. NACRO Crime Prevention
    Unit and the Safe Neighbourhoods Unit offer a range of services to
    local authorities and other agencies (see HELP panel).
  • Crime Concern � an independent national organisation
    which develops and supports crime prevention initiatives. Works
    closely with the private sector to produce funding for local
    projects (see HELP panel).
  • Community Action Trust (CAT) � an independent national
    charity which creates community alliances to fight crime.
    Crimestoppers, operated by the police, seeks anonymous information
    about crime on a freephone (0800 555 111) with cash rewards



The following publications could be useful: 

�Neighbourhood Watch � A Guide to Successful Schemes �
October 1993�. Available from Crime Concern, Signal Point,
Station Road, Swindon, Wiltshire SN1 1FE. Tel 0179 351 4596. 

�A Practical Guide to Crime Prevention for Local Partnerships
� October 1993�. Available from the Home Office, Crime
Prevention Unit, Room 583, 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London SW1H

�Manual for Action� � advice on how to set up a crime
prevention panel. 

You can get more information on Neighbourhood Watch in the
leaflet �Welcome to Neighbourhood Watch�. 

The above titles are available from Home Office Public
Relations Branch, Room 151, 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London SW1H

�Partners Against Crime� � a guide to helping the police
reduce crime in your neighbourhood. Call 0345 235 235 for your
free copy. 

local office, contact the National Association of Councils for
Voluntary Service (NACVS), 3rd Floor, Arundel Court,
177 Arundel Street, Sheffield S1 2NU. Tel 0114 278 6636.

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Consumer power and crime prevention

Many products and services supplied by companies are designed or
provided with little or no regard being paid to crime prevention. If you
have a choice between two similar products, but one has security
designed into it and the other hasn�t, buy the one which has. If
enough people do the same, the other manufacturer will soon redesign its

You can exert this type of influence in many areas:

  • Housing: if you are buying or renting a new house or flat,
    ask the builders or landlord to fit window locks, deadlocks and
    strong doors.
  • Council housing: if your council house or flat is not
    secure, ask the council for something to be done. As well as giving
    you peace of mind, it will encourage them to improve the security of
    their properties as a routine feature of refurbishment.
  • Roads, footpaths and subways: you can help to maintain a
    safer environment by reporting to the authorities if streets,
    footpaths and subways are not well lit.
  • Building design: developers and local authorities should
    demand that new developments like housing estates, shopping
    precincts and car parks are designed to minimise the opportunities
    for criminals, and to create attractive and welcoming environments.
  • Schools: arson and vandalism cost schools dearly �
    between five and ten per cent of some education authorities�
    maintenance budgets are spent repairing vandalism damage. The money
    could be spent elsewhere by reducing vandalism through good design,
    sensible security measures and better management practices. Ask what
    your children�s school is doing to prevent vandalism and the risk
    of arson.
  • Home insurance: does your insurance company offer discounts
    on home insurance if you are a member of Neighbourhood Watch? If
    not, try to find an insurance company who does.
  • Loans for improving security: some building societies and
    banks will increase your mortgage so you can pay for security
    improvements to your home. You should bear this in mind when
    choosing a lender.
  • Financial services: when you open a bank or building
    society account, or apply for a credit or charge card, find out what
    security measures the company takes to protect you against fraud.
    Shop around for the best deal. If you are a retailer which accepts
    credit cards, is it more difficult to check the validity of any
    particular card? If so, perhaps you should consider no longer
    accepting it.
  • The National Board for Crime Prevention � brings together
    key individuals from the business community; local government;
    police; probation service; voluntary agencies and the media. The
    Board is chaired by a Home Office Minister, and advises the
    government on new ways of involving all sections of the community in
    developing new crime prevention initiatives.




Trains staff to work with pre-school children in various
settings, to teach them decision-making and evaluation skills.
Their address is Copperfield House, 190-192 Maple Road, London
SE20 8HT. Tel 020 8676 0220. 


Volunteers give friendship, support and practical help to young
families at home. Contact them at 2 Salisbury Road, Leicester LE1
7QR, Tel 0116 255 4988 to get details of your nearest branch


Advice on how to set up after-school and holiday playschemes.
Address is 279-281 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1BY. Tel 020 7247


4th Floor 
East Neil House 
7 Whitechapel Road 
London E1 1DU 
Tel 020 7247 4227.

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For a copy of Your Practical Guide to Crime prevention contact the Crime
Prevention Officer at your local police station or write to:

Crime Prevention Publicity
Home Office
Room 155
50 Queen Anne’s Gate
London SW1H 9AT

This guide is also available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Hindi,
Punjabi and Welsh. To obtain a copy in any of these languages, please
contact the address given above

Date modified: 20 July 2001
Review date: August 2002
Originator: Home Office

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