New way to tackle district’s burglaries

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A burglary reduction scheme is to be piloted in the Harrogate district which will see police working with a charitable group to eliminate risks.

The scheme - which has proved a huge success in West Yorkshire - is to be rolled out across Harrogate, Ripon, Boroughbridge, Knaresborough and Nidderdale on Monday.

It will see homes in areas targeted by burglars assessed for any possible risks, with experts then able to offer impartial advice - and work - to solve any issues which arise.

“It’s about working preemptively to stop people in their tracks,” said Supt Aubrey Smith, Harrogate Safer Neighbourhoods Commander.

“We will be focusing on areas which have been targeted by burglars, as well as working with those who have been affected.

“Lets not wait for people to become victims of burglary.”

Harrogate police will be working with Community Action and Support Against Crime (CASAC), a not-for-profit group was set up in the mid 1990s.

Its initial aim was to meet Government targets by cutting burglary figures by 25 per cent, and in the three years since it was rolled out across West Yorkshire, 60,000 homes have undergone assessment.

“It’s great for the Harrogate district to be piloting the scheme,” said Supt Smith. “The plan then is to role it out across the force. And the biggest driver is to stop people becoming a victim of burglary.”

The CASAC scheme has been credited by the Safer Leeds Partnership as one of the key tools in reducing burglary by 44 per cent - with a projected cost saving of £21m.

It will begin to work after PCs and PCSOs are called out to a burglary. They can then refer the homeowner and their neighbours for a CASAC assessment, with engineers identifying key risks such as poor locks and damaged windows.

The charity can then carry out the work at lower rates, or free for those who fall within a certain vulnerability criteria.

Police will also be looking at key trends to identify areas to target.

“All the profits go back to the charity,” said CASAC general manager Peter Walker.

“We will give recommendations to improve security - if they want Joe Bloggs to do the work, that’s fine.

“The important thing is improving their security.

“But we are better because we know what we’re doing. We had an elderly lady who was told she needed a new window fitted at £350. We fitted a new handle for £8.

“We are here to give independent advice. We don’t make a profit. We just want people to feel safe in their own homes.”