Bristol doorstep crime initiative opens doors at Number 10
A Bristol support service helping to prevent doorstep crime against senior citizens has been named as the latest Big Society Award winner by the Prime Minister.
The Bristol-based group is staffed by police, police staff, and members of the community, who volunteer their time to help provide crime prevention guidance to thousands of senior citizens, as well as initiating a support group for those who have been the unfortunate victims of crime.
The Senior Citizens Liaison Team has taken neighbourhood policing beyond the call of duty by organising Safety and Awareness fairs in local crime hotspots.
Since January 2010, officers have volunteered their time and expertise to help the most vulnerable members of the community while reducing targeted crime. In the first year of the operation, the total number of “distraction burglaries” in Bristol dropped by nearly 50 per cent (from 169 to 93 reported cases).
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The ‘Senior Siren’ newsletter was also launched to reach the less mobile residents of the local area. Its popularity has gone from strength to strength with readership expanding from 5,000 to 200,000 in just five editions. The newsletter gives advice on how to deal with – and prevent – doorstep crime, as well as containing expert contributions from specialists such as Trading Standards.
In the knowledge that many elderly victims are re-targeted by criminals, caseworkers have been assigned to victims to help them overcome the distress caused to encourage them to and socialise with others who have been through similar experiences.
Organising trips to local attractions for victims has galvanised a community of senior citizens in Bristol, who now feel safer in their own homes.
David Cameron said: “The police do a fantastic job keeping people safe but unfortunately tackling crimes like distraction burglaries relies on people having the information and confidence to keep themselves safe.
“It is great to see officers and volunteers in Bristol giving up their own time to help raise awareness among older, vulnerable people in the local community to prevent them from becoming victims.
“Halving the number of distraction burglaries in Bristol in their first year of operation is a huge achievement by the Senior Citizens Liaison Team and I’m pleased to be able to give them this award to make that success.”
Bristol resident Peggy Brookes, 91,said: “I was conned by two men who pretended to help with my garden. I lost my savings that day, but my greatest loss was my sense of security.
“After meeting Ryan from the scheme things got a lot better. They arranged for better security at my home and for my garden to be looked after by a local charity. Finally, after months of fear, I can once again sleep soundly”
Sgt Ashley Jones, project director from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: “Older adults have more complex needs than others and often have a more acute fear of crime and it was with the simple goal of helping to alleviate these fears that we formed the Senior Citizen Liaison Team in 2009.
“Over the last four years we have engaged with thousands of vulnerable, older adults in the Avon and Somerset area, and have supported many victims of crime with one-to-one help in overcoming their fears and given them confidence to win the ‘Battle of the Doorstep’ against bogus callers or rogue traders who may attempt to target them.
“Over the first three years of our existence (2010 to 2012), we were delighted to have contributed to the 56 per cent reduction in reported distraction burglary in our operating area, but we know there is still much more to achieve.
“We are delighted to have been selected as the winners of a Big Society Award and will use the added impetus that this has given us, to renew our commitment to serving the older adult population of the UK’.