The name of the scheme is reducing theft from vehicles. It is part of the Kirklees Community Safety Partnership Crime & Disorder Reduction Strategy and the Kirklees council and the West Yorkshire Police work together in reducing crime. The aim of the strategy is ‘to provide a framework for partnership work to tackle the causes and consequences of crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime, thereby creating safer communities and providing greater reassurance.’ The responsibility of the strategy mainly lies with the Community Safety Partnership Executive which is chaired by the leader of the council.
The executive is required to report the progress of the strategy.The actual scheme, reducing theft from vehicles is made up of a number of interventions, this includes public awareness, introducing secure by design car parks and disrupting the market for stolen goods. The intervention that will be looked at here is reducing theft from vehicles through public awareness. The scheme was set up after the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) came into action. The first strategy was set up immediately after the act came into action and ran from 1998 to 2003. Each strategy is 3 years long. The second strategy which is currently running was started in March 2002 and will be evaluated at the end of its 3 years in March 2005.
Currently the scheme is at the end of the second year of its second strategy.The scheme tried to tackle theft from vehicles by promoting partnerships. The aim was to reduce theft from vehicles in Kirklees by encouraging the police, the council, local business leaders and motorist to wok with the scheme.
The main funding for the scheme comes from the West Yorkshire Police and the government, however this is not a huge amount as the funding has to be split between the other schemes on the strategy. The scheme welcomes the aid of the general public, local businesses, voluntary organisations and local communities. Some small and private sector organisations, like the local business work with the scheme and although they don’t fund it they aid the scheme through voluntary work. A lot of the work the scheme takes part in is funded by local organisations that work with them. A lot of the cost for the scheme is needed for producing, printing and distributing material for the public.Theft from motor vehicles is an important scheme in Kirklees, as Kirklees has a higher than average rate of theft from motor vehicles compared to other similar areas.
Theft from vehicles account for 16% of the total recorded crime in the UK, however the BCS claim that the level could be double of what the police have recorded. In Kirklees the rate of thefts from vehicles is higher than the average UK rate with 17 per 1000 population. Theft from vehicles in Kirklees accounted for 31% of all vehicle crime.The scheme uses Brantingham and Faust’s typology of crime reduction, where the victim the offender and the location of crime has to be looked at to tackle crime. The scheme used public awareness a means of reducing victimisation. The scheme decided to educate the general public on basic crime prevention measures in order to reduce the chances of them being a victim of theft. The scheme also adopted measures, which concentrated on the location of crime.
They identified certain hotspot areas of theft from vehicles and tried to promote awareness in those areas to reduce crime. The scheme tried to reduce offending by reducing the chances for thieves. They did this by ensuring the general public took care in securing their vehicle and concealing valuables. It was thought that if motorists took these measures it would reduce the chances for thieves.To reduce theft from vehicles the scheme produced a multi-agency group, which included a lead officer, known as Martin Sykes.
The other main person was the Community safety link officer, Maroof Shah. The members were responsible for holding meetings every 6 weeks, involving people from other organisations to help with the scheme. The members monitor and track the schemes with the aid of structured action plans.The action plans contain details of the scheme and are evaluated every 6 weeks when the meetings are held. The meetings involve discussions on any problems and solutions they have found with the scheme.
In the meetings they discuss what has to be done and what has been previously done to tackle the problems. Anything that is discussed in the meetings is put down on the action plans.The action plans involve information on the task that needs to be done, the costs, targets, current performance and reasons for any under or over performances. The action plans also include information on other group interventions and why the intervention is needed.The action plans are evaluated every 6 weeks but the main evaluation will be done at the end of next March when the second strategy comes to an end.The Action Plans concentrate on the interventions, targets and performances of the scheme, in the meetings the members produce short term and long term targets. The short term targets have to be met within 6 weeks when the meeting is held again but the long term targets have to be met either at the end of the year or at the end of the strategy. One of the major targets they had was to reduce thefts from vehicles by over 30% by the end of the strategy.
Success would mean that the annual number of thefts from vehicles in Kirklees would drop from 17 per 1000 population in 2002 to 11 per 1000 by the end of the second strategy in 2005.When the scheme was evaluated at the end of the last strategy, it was found that theft from vehicles was moving from town centre areas into residential areas. The scheme decided to concentrate on reducing theft from vehicles by looking at the location of the theft to tackle this problem.
The scheme decided to target hotspot residential areas and public awareness material was produced and distributed in these areas. The packs contained information and advice on basic crime prevention measures.The packs included leaflets and stickers which could be placed on car windows and they contained information on basic crime prevention measures. The leaflets contain basic tips like concealing all valuables from view to avoid windows being smashed.
A large proportion of vehicle crime is committed by opportunist thieves. The leaflets used the slogan ‘Lock it, Secure it, Hide it, Shut it.’ To remind people to lock all doors, hide all valuables from view, secure the car with an immobiliser and to keep all windows, boots and sunroofs shut when leaving the vehicle. Motorists in general were educated on protecting their property.The Crime Audit which was produced at the end of the first strategy indicated that a considerable number of thefts from vehicles occurred outside peoples homes at night as well as in car pars during the day. The scheme decided to target town centres and retail and business car parks as certain car parks were being identified as hotspot residential areas. Thieves were targeting these areas as opportunity was being made available to them by motorists who were failing to take basic crime prevention measures.
One of the car parks that were identified was the Birstall Retail Park. In order to reduce theft there, the scheme decided to target individual people who had left their vehicles a prey to crime. The scheme had people go around in car parks and put leaflets containing crime prevention information on vehicles which weren’t secured or had valuables visible to others.
In the last strategy it was also found that some town centre areas had a high theft of vehicle rate. The areas that were identified were Huddersfield town centre with 212 thefts from vehicles per 1000 population and Dewsbury town centre with 128 per 1000 in the year 2000. To reduce the crime in town centre areas the scheme tried to address a large number of people at once. They managed to do this by identifying educational establishments and local agencies that were interested.
The establishments and agencies helped by agreeing to raise employee awareness. The scheme had a member of the team go out and speak to the head of the agencies on employee awareness. It also produced publicity and awareness material and got the agencies involved to send this out with the employee pay slips.The scheme also involves press releases, which are released every so often. The press release contains information on the scheme, like what is being done and what is being aimed to do. The press releases also provide information on the successes of the scheme.
The press releases are aimed at the general public. An example is at Christmas time, they reduced a press release pledging motorist to ensure all vehicles were secured at all time and ensure that any shopping was concealed and not left visible to others.Since the scheme was started in 1998 the rate of thefts from vehicles has reduced. In 1998 the average rate in Kirklees was 19 per 1000 population but within just two years of the scheme being run, the rate reduced to 16 per 1000 population. Theses figures are for the whole of Kirklees but the rates for specific areas in Kirklees has dropped by a huge amount in just one year.
Batley has reduced the rate of theft from vehicles from 19 per 1000 population in 1999 to 13 per 1000 in 2002.