Reported burglaries tend to increase significantly at this time of year, with evidence showing an increase in home theft by more than a third. Statistics show that more than 400 burglaries take place each day in the UK during the two weeks either side of Christmas.
With the nights drawing in much earlier throughout the winter months, criminals tend to use the extended cover of darkness to their benefit. Crucially, the fact that most of us will be home due to the current Covid-19 restrictions is unlikely to make any difference this winter. Indeed, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) latest figures show that 64% of burglaries in England and Wales occurred while owners were on the premises during lockdown.
This year, residents are advised to remain vigilant and not to let their guard down. (For advice on how to keep your home safe this festive season visit www.derbyshire.police.uk.)
As a local Councillor and the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for Derbyshire in the next elections (May 2021), I will be encouraging people to join their local Neighbourhood Watch, or if there are none in their local area, to start one.
These schemes have been around since the 1980s but they are still one of the most effective ways to improve community safety. Neighbourhood watches work closely with police officers and PCSO's in their area, getting residents together to help create safer, stronger communities, in which people can feel safe from crime and enjoy a good quality of life.
I think the Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed what most of us knew already. Communities work best when people come together to find solutions to issues that concern them. Neighbours have helped each other through hardship and made sure vulnerable residents received the help they needed. Commemorative events such as Remembrance Sunday that could not take place on large scales, still took place street by street, with people working together to find ways to pay their respect. Christmas Lights Switch-On events were cancelled in many Towns this month. People, like my own neighbours, took it upon themselves to organise their own events and make sure social-distancing-friendly celebrations could still take place.
I believe that this winter, neighbours can make a real difference to their own area and help keep crime low. It's about looking out for each other and keeping one another safe.
For more information visit www.ourwatch.org.uk.