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LONDON Secure Homes 3UMMER 

Your free guide to wellbeing for you, your family and your home

Inside this issue:

l Perimeter security l Protecting you posessions l Internet and email security l Guide to contents insurance


Welcome to this latest edition of the London Neighbourhood Watch Association’s (LNWA) Member’s Guide, which replaces the old guides. We hope you will find the contents useful and informative, and we would welcome any constructive feedback from you. Simply contact us at

Message from the Chairman The idea that Neighbourhood Watch members are a group of busy bodies, with nothing better to do than peer through their net curtains at the people across the road, is disappearing fast. Neighbourhood Watch is a partnership between the Community, the Local Authority and the Police. Many of the things that an active Watch can get involved in affect everybody’s quality of life. The things that determine whether the area covered by the Watch becomes a nice place to live in. A place where people want to move to. Neighbourhood Watch flourished when the levels of domestic burglary were at their peak. Fortunately the number of burglaries is dropping considerably and this is due to a variety of reasons. Certainly Neighbourhood Watch at property marking has played it’s part. Nowadays homes are built with security in mind and occupants are more aware of the need for good locks and bolts. But that should not mean that Neighbourhood Watch is defunct. There are other areas of concern which need to be tackled, and Watch members should be at the forefront of involvement with Safer Neighbourhood Teams, ensuring that the police tackle some of the issues which are uppermost in the minds of the community, whether it is the theft of pedal cycles or the levels of antisocial behaviour in and around schools and town centres, particularly outside licensed premises. Public perception is very important and the community needs to drive forward their ideas and not leave the formulation of priorities solely to the police and politicians. The London Neighbourhood Watch Association is there to help with advice and the sharing of best practice on local matters as well as being the voice of Neighbourhood Watch with the police, at the highest levels, and the Home Office.

Contents Neighbourhood Watch Purpose Statement What is a Neighbourhood Watch?

4 5 30

Useful Contacts

Home Security Crime Prevention – a Personal View 6 How Secure is Your Home? 7 Perimeter Security 8 Burglar Alarms 9 Smoke Alarms and Fire Protection 10 Windows and Door Security 11 Protecting Possessions 12-13

IT Security Internet & Email Security 14-15

Safety Personal Safety Tips


Your Money Financial Security Equity Release

22 23-24

Insurance Contents Insurance Car Insurance

26-27 28-29

London Neighbourhood Watch Association Contact:

Thank you all for your support Just contact: James Madden, Chairman

DISCLAIMER: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure at the time of printing the magazine the information herein is accurate and up to date, neither the publishers, London Neighbourhood Watch Association or editorial contributors can be held responsible for any inaccuracies that may have occurred within the content of the publication. The Publishers do not endorse, sponsor or otherwise support any substance, commodity, process equipment or service advertised or mentioned in this magazine, nor are they responsible for the accuracy of any statement in this magazine. © Copyright 2011.

James Maddan Chairman

Alfred Kennedy Treasurer

Warwick Baldwin Commercial

Published by: The Media Group, Telephone: 0161 928 1188 Email:

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Neighbourhood Watch

Purpose Statement A message from the Home Office‌ Neighbourhood Watch exists to: l Cut crime and the opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour l Provide reassurance to local residents  and reduce the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour l Encourage neighbourliness and closer communities l Improve the quality of life for local residents and tenants It will do this by: l Being a community based organisation, involving residents and tenants who are working together l Working in partnership with the police, local authorities and other agencies to reduce crime and disorder l Sharing information and advice with the police and other agencies concerning crime and other incidents It can do this by: l Identifying issues of local concern l Becoming involved in community problem solving, agreeing regularly which problems to target and what actions to take l Getting involved in crime and disorder and anti-social behaviour prevention initiatives l Providing volunteer administrators /  co-ordinators who assist paid Neighbourhood Watch staff to effectively run Neighbourhood Watch l Monitoring and reporting on Anti-Social Behaviour l Forming district, county / force-wide associations to share and disseminate good practice l Linking into and working with other Watch movements and wider voluntary, public sector and private sector bodies The Police Service supports Neighbourhood Watch by: l Waving a clear policy statement which outlines its support for Neighbourhood Watch and the wider Watch movement l Providing regular, structured help and guidance, especially to co-ordinators and district, county / force-wide Neighbourhood Watch associations l Providing routine crime figures, other information and expert advice to Watch schemes

l S upporting the development of Watches or similar schemes into areas with the greatest need, including engaging with minority communities which are currently underrepresented within the Watch movement l Providing training opportunities for Watch co-ordinators l Ensuring appropriate Neighbourhood Watch paid staff are trained to a minimum standard and managed effectively l Developing a service level agreement between Neighbourhood Watch and the police l Providing feedback to Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators / members who pass information / intelligence / incidents to  the police l Providing rapid dissemination of current information / intelligence to co-ordinators l Integrating Neighbourhood Watch into its Neighbourhood Policing Programme l Assisting local schemes to find sources of funding for running costs and other initiatives l At a local level, bringing together Neighbourhood Watch work with other Watch’ voiuntary, public and private sector bodies concerned with crime, anti-social behaviour and quality of life issues l Where agreed by the local force, carrying out vetting of Neighbourhood Watch coordinators and other appropriate Neighbourhood Watch volunteers The Home Office supports Neighbourhood Watch by: l Providing Ministerial support to the movement l Developing policy relating to the promotion, development and support of the Neighbourhood Watch and wider Watch movement in England and Wales l Providing practical support, for example by maintaining the Neighbourhood Watch mini-site on the Crime Reduction Centre website, producing good practice guidance for the movement, supplying free publications and training materials, sponsoring conferences, events and commissioning appropriate research l Promoting the effective exchange of information and sharing of good practice across Neighbourhood Watch and the wider Watch movement

l B  ringing together Neighbourhood Watch with other voluntary and public bodies, concerned with crime’ antisocial behaviour and quality of life issues l Exploring ways to reach out to younger people, those from minority ethnic groups and people living in higher crime areas l Providing public liability insurance cover for every Neighbourhood Watch group and association throughout England and Wales l Chairing the National Strategy Group for Watch Issues l Working with the Government Offices for the Regions and the Welsh Assembly to help promote Neighbourhood Watch in the regions and Wales, in particular by supporting effective links between Neighbourhood Watch and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) Local Government supports Neighbourhood Watch by: l Recognising the unique contribution of Neighbourhood Watch to the broader community safety agenda. Local Government recognises that Neighbourhood Watch schemes can make a real difference to local communities and values their importance as part of its broader work with the community and voluntary sectors The National Strategy Group for Watch Issues supports Neighbourhood Watch by: l Providing advice, information and support to the Home Office and ACPO on the development and implementation of policy and practical measures to promote the further growth and deveiopment of Neighbourhood Watch and the wider Watch movement l P  roviding relevant knowledge and experience from outside the Watch movement l P  romoting Neighbourhood Watch to stakeholder organisations beyond the Watch movement

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Neighbourhood Watch

What is Neighbourhood Watch?


eighbourhood Watch is a popular way for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in preventing crime in their community. Schemes usually start with people sharing crime prevention advice and activities, keeping an eye on each others’ property, improving home security and building two way communication both with the police and their neighbours. Neighbourhood Watch has proved itself to be successful. All over the UK, active Neighbourhood Watch schemes are reducing crime rates by working with each other and the police. How do I set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme?

As most crime is opportunistic, and committed on the spur of the moment, or when a car or house is left unlocked, there is enormous scope for reducing chances for criminals. To find out if your area has a Neighbourhood Watch scheme simply contact the LNWA Whereas traditional Neighbourhood Watch helpline. If you do not have a Neighbourhood activity has focused on the immediate vicinity Watch scheme in your area you can consider of homes, more and more schemes are now broadening their range of work. Local problems setting one up yourself. You will need to speak such as vandalism and graffiti are well within to the LNWA who will liaise with your local the scope of a well organised police station, and they will tell Neighbourhood Watch Neighbourhood Watch scheme. you how to set up a scheme. You can also take action such as You will need to ask your is now so successful that fitting more secure door and neighbours if they want to be there are over 160,000 window locks in vulnerable involved in a Neighbourhood schemes in the UK. homes. You could also lobby the Watch scheme. This might be local authority, for example, to via a questionnaire or a public meeting. If your improve street lighting or step up the security of neighbours agree then the police will register a communal entrance. you as an official scheme and supply you with Neighbourhood Watch schemes utilise window stickers and crime prevention literature technology such as landline phone or ‘sms you can circulate in your street. texting by mobile’ or emailing to notify members Neighbourhood Watch schemes can be as large of important events or just to keep in touch or small as you want. They can cover all of the from a community spirited point of view. households in an area or just half a dozen houses However, at this time, ‘Ring Round’ is the in a cul-de-sac. It depends on mainstay of a Neighbourhood the area and what people living Greater London alone Watch Scheme. ‘Ring Round’ is there want. intended to disseminate has over 2.1+ million A scheme is generally led by a members and over three information as quickly as volunteer coordinator whose quarters of people think possible to all members of a job is to get people working Neighbourhood Watch is Neighbourhood Watch scheme and also to notify the police of together and make sure things effective in its role as a any suspicious goings on. get done. As well as the crime reduction and coordinator there is usually a The coordinators generally community safety committee who meet regularly contact the police and key awareness activity. to plan which problems to target members, and then it is down and what action to take. Schemes to the coordinators and keep in close touch with the local police to share members to keep each other informed. This information and advice. approach is tried and tested and works. While you may see an increase in your phone bill, the The most important thing to remember is that benefits far outweigh the costs. Telephone Neighbourhood Watch schemes can actually service supply companies now offer highly target crime problems and take action to prevent competitive rates so you may actually make them. In consultation with the local police they savings. can find out from local people what crimes most concern and affect them and focus on those specific problems.

Safer Neighbourhoods Safer Neighbourhoods is a truly local policing style: local people working with local police and partners to identify and tackle issues of concern in their neighbourhood. Safer Neighbourhoods teams usually consist of one sergeant, two constables and three police community support officers (PCSOs). They are trained to communicate with a wide range of people, communities and partners, to tackle and solve community problems. Experience suggests these are most likely to be quality-of-life issues, such as anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, abandoned cars and graffiti. Safer Neighbourhoods teams are dedicated to the needs of each specific neighbourhood, with the policing priorities for that area decided in partnership with local stakeholders – the public, crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs), local authorities and other local organisations. The teams are permanent, not a ‘quick fix’ brought in to respond to local changes in crime and disorder. What’s important and different about this neighbourhood policing model is the officers work at grass roots level in addition to London’s other policing teams and specialist units. Safer Neighbourhoods teams are assigned, in most cases, according to the boundaries of each of London’s 624 electoral wards. The programme began its phased roll out in April 2004, and in April 2006 the remaining teams were put in place – two years ahead of the Government set target for national neighbourhood policing. All 624 neighbourhood wards across the capital now have their own dedicated Safer Neighbourhoods team – that’s around 20 teams per borough. Five additional teams cover the city of Westminster and there is an extra team in Crystal Palace covering an area where three boroughs meet. This brings the total number of Safer Neighbourhoods teams to 630 – that’s over 4,100 officers and police community support officers dedicated to neighbourhood policing. Safer Neighbourhoods teams are now supported by 21 borough-based Safer Transport teams. For more information visit: www.met.police. uk/saferneighbourhoods or call:

0300 123 1212

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Home Security


irst of all I would like to say how pleased I am to be associated with the London Neighbourhood Watch Association, in my role as the Met’s crime prevention officer however, I have to confess to being a victim of burglary, gaulingly when I was asleep in bed at night! I have no intention of resigning from my new post in charge of crime prevention as I firmly believe that having been a victim yourself, it can add something to the advice you are able to give to others so, here we go.

Crime Prevention A personal view… My own burglary occurred during the dead of night when the whole family were blissfully asleep upstairs. The M.O. was quite unusual, the removal of an entire pane from my conservatory which the burglars kindly placed completely intact around the side of my house. As we had recently moved in, I think we were lucky, in that the unpacking of all those boxes was as unpalatable to our nightime visitors as it was to us! Accordingly, we got off pretty lightly with only cash and, general paperwork taken, the paperwork part of which was recovered from a nearby woodland area. The big mistake I made, which will strike a nerve with up to 50% of other alarmed householders (as some surveys suggest) was not setting my burglar alarm at night. Yes you may have guessed; I have three small children, not to mention three cats, and fearing being ex-communicated by my new neighbours for annoying false activations, before we had even got to know them, we left it. Besides, I am a policeman, useful perhaps if you are awake! Remarkably, post my break-in, the children were easier to “train” than anticipated, isn’t it unwise to underestimate them? I am well aware that you cannot train moggies, however you can isolate them in a particular area, relatively straightforwardly, or fit a “pet friendly” alarm sensor. My family were then forced to address the logic of a female family friend whose husband is away a lot on business, viz: “I don’t set the alarm at night as I would be terrified and helpless if it went off ”. My advice is to “retire with your mobile”, no problem for those of young disposition but a bit more of a cultural shift for many of us, but recommended, unless of course you have an upstairs phone. If you hear something suspicious, which will usually be the alarm in the dead of night, carry out a brief investigation in the mind and physically, and if you believe the chances are “its real”, dial 999.

is when a rod is inserted through your letterbox to grasp your car keys, kept accessible for you somewhere near your front door! No trade tricks to “start her up” required, it’s a simple case of opening the car up, and turning the key! Although there are very reasonably priced products available to thwart this M.O, such as a letter box basket, or a guard which angles items downwards, the “catch all” preventive technique is to take your car keys upstairs at night too, notwithstanding that these, your mobile and a glass of water, will be something of a juggling feat! The peace of mind and consequent good night sleep will be worth it! Something that I had to face was the policing uturn in recent years away from “they won’t come back”. Statistically you are at a higher risk of burglary if you have been burgled once, than if you have not been burgled at all, not really fair, but true. The good news is that the risk reverts to normal after six months or so, and if you improve your house security, your risk can be less than normal, straight away. When deciding what you can reasonably afford to pay for peace of mind, start from the outside and work in. By the outside I mean the ends of your plot of land! The perimeter of my premises was something that needed a lot of wood and nails in my case. Ideally any side gate at the front should be flush with the front of the house, of good height and lockable from the inside by padlock or key, (hopefully they wont get in but if they do, make them struggle to take anything out!). Garden fences should be “whole”! Trellising on top, if feasible, is a thief ’s hazard, because it breaks and causes noise etc. This with some prize prickly bushes is a good first line of defence.

lights on, however a single hall light on is probably more of a traditional sign of unoccupancy than no lights, so please put lights on, or programmed to come on, in so called “lived in space”! All I want to say about your doors and windows in this article is to urge you to check your house contents policy conditions, to make sure you have the right locks in the right places! Time for another confession, my road’s Neighbourhood Watch is well below par! It is perhaps not unique in that it was formed a long time ago, people have moved on, and the police input has reduced over time! My professional experience is that when assessing N.H.W; “quantity” rather than “quality” has purveyed in the past. There is no doubt that even a small amount of activity in a Watch could make a difference, however the MPS, faced with unprecedented demands, are really looking to work with the whole community to reduce crime and N.H.W are always one of the first organisations mentioned. We really need Watches all over London to be as active and as organised as possible, in my street a few ‘get togethers’ has added that much needed cohesion and I feel we will truly be worthy to call ourselves a Neighbourhood Watch imminently. In conclusion, my role involves ensuring that new criminal tactics, and anything which can be effective in preventing crime is brought to the publics attention with, if applicable, costings of products and where to get them. You will be foremost in my mind in this process. I am totally committed to the ethos of N.H.W. and look forward to forming an effective working relationship with the London Neighbourhood Watch Association.

There are police ‘response to alarm’ guidelines to prevent unnecessary call outs, primarily to unoccupied premises, but in the middle of the night, to a worried occupier, there is much more flexibility and police response times are generally good.

There is a move away from movement activated security lights, due to their environmental effect, to lower level energy, and automatic dusk to dawn lights around a house, which have the same deterrence, a combination of both may be a good compromise with your current fittings.

There are specialist Crime Prevention Officers in stations all over London and many other officers can give appropriate advice too. Alternatively go to and click on ‘Crime Prevention’. I also recommend the BBC crime website which has good “visuals”, as I suppose you would expect!

Regrettably nigh-time break-ins have shown a slight increase over recent years, another feature of which is so called “fishing rod burglaries”. This

The last things I want to say about lights are the internal ones. If you are going to be out when it gets dark it is good practice to leave a light or

Detective Inspector, Metropolitan Police Services, Crime Reduction Office

Very best wishes, Paul Anstee

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Home Security

Your guide to…

Perimeter Security Security lighting Vandals and especially thieves don’t like lights, but also security lighting can help visitors to your home find their way after dark, and you can identify them easily. A light by your front door is useful and other lights can be used to illuminate side passages, paths to the garage and the back of the house. It is important to get the positioning and level of illumination correct, avoid annoying neighbours with light pollution. The most appropriate type of lighting is regarded as a high efficiency low energy light controlled by a dusk till dawn sensor so that the light comes on only when it’s dark, providing a constant uniform level of light, not constantly blinking on and off, and they cost very little to run, you may need to speak to your local planning officer. However other choices include:

Fitting security lights

Quickthorn hedging

Basic DIY skills are needed to install new lights and wiring. However, they do require electrical skills and technical knowledge, so if in any doubt, you should employ an electrician, always remember though, fit lights out of easy reach at least 2.5m (8ft) high. As well as lighting, this section highlights the issues of securing your boundaries as thieves will tend to move onto another property if they can’t gain adequate access. Look around your perimeter and ask yourself whether it is secure.

During the growing stage, this needs to be used alongside another form of fencing – which can be removed once the hedge has matured. But maintenance costs are low, and it forms an effective barrier.


Time switches Twenty-four hour time switches can also be used to switch lights on and off at predetermined times. Their use with interior lights, radios and lamps is especially useful where a house is not occupied. They can be timed to come on at dusk so that the house looks and sounds occupied and then be switched off again later on in the evening. They are a low-cost way of helping to protect your house from burglars. Good locations to have them are kitchen, living room and bedroom.

Choosing fittings Any light fitting for outdoor use – even in a porch – must be marked as suitable for the purpose. Think about neighbours, you don’t want to blind them when your lights come on. For example: at the front door and on the patio, you will probably want a decorative fitting (or two) that looks attractive by day and at night. Elsewhere, function will be more important than looks, with a choice of floodlights and bulkhead lights for approaches, side paths, garage area.

Sometimes considered unattractive, but it’s a real deterrent to all but the most determined intruder. Hard to climb, available in a variety of gauges and strengths – and its appearance can be simply improved with some judicially placed low shrubs.

Steel palisade Although expensive, this provides excellent protection – especially as perimeter fencing in vulnerable areas where unauthorised vehicles are known to have intruded. Alternatively, and less expensively, palisade fencing can be used close to a building to shut off irregular building perimeters or concealed areas.

Pir detectors Most exterior lights will benefit from being controlled via a PIR detector (passive infrared). This senses the movement of any warm object – visitor, burglar, animal, car – moving in its field of view and acts to switch on the lighting it controls. You can buy individual light fittings with an integral PIR detector or else have a separate standalone detector linked to a number of ordinary light fittings.

Weldmesh / expanded metal

Many sorts of gates are available, and we advise that you choose a strong metal construction with the hinge pins reversed or rivetted so that the gates can’t be removed in one go. Naturally, the gates shouldn’t be so heavy that the hinge plates are under excessive pressure, and it’s better to fit a padlock – ideally of the closed-shackle variety – than rely on integral locks which, if vandalised or damaged, are difficult to replace. Lock your gates when you’re away to prevent access by unwanted vehicles – it’s advisable to have a word with your local fire and police services about what sort of lock they recommend – or give a spare to your keyholder or neighbour.


Sheds / garages Always ensure that your outbuildings have protection, be aware that thieves may climb on them to gain access to your house. Locks on doors should be substantial, as should the doors themselves, consider alarming your shed or valuable items in it, also ensure items such as tools, equipment, and furniture are stored in lockable steel boxes and chain ladders. Never leave items in view, consider using ‘protective film’ or place a security shutter or screen over windows. Your local DIY store or locksmith will be able to offer appropriate advice – but also consult your local Police Crime Prevention Officer. Consider anchoring your shed to the floor.

A wide variety of fences are available on the market: these are a few of the most popular – with the ‘pro’s’ and ‘con’s’ you should consider before making your choice. Planning permission may be required, so you should contact your local planning authority before proceeding to check which grades and heights are acceptable.

Chain link Made from thin wire, mostly coated with plastic which is easily distorted or removed. It soon becomes unattractive, and also doesn’t form an effective barrier.

Timber Reduces visibility from outside, prone to easy theft and expensive to maintain. Try to fix panels into concrete posts to prevent lifting out.

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Home Security


burglary is committed every 25 seconds and the average home has a 1 in 22 chance of being burgled. Despite alarms being accepted by both police and ex-criminals as the best deterrent to burglars, only about 24% of homes in the UK have an alarm system

Your guide to…

Burglar Alarms Burglar alarm systems In its most basic form, an intruder alarm system may be represented as follows. The control panel is the ‘intelligent’ element, which: l permits setting and testing of the system by means of numeric keys l receives input signals from detectors l transmits output signals to sounders and communicating equipment l monitors all circuits for failure Detectors are designed to respond to an intruder either breaking into a house, or moving about inside. If an intruder is detected a signal is passed to the central unit, which in turn causes the signalling equipment to operate, either by a bell or siren, or by more advanced signalling methods via a telephone or mobile phone line to a central monitoring station, who will alert you and / or the police. There are many forms of detectors, namely :

Magnetic contacts These are most common form of detector. There are flush fitting and surface mounted types for normal wooden doors and windows.

Glass break detectors Usually adhesively fixed contacts on glass, designed to activate, when glass is broken; or in certain instances they can detect movement prior to breakage.

Movement detectors P.I.R. Units (Passive Infra Red), are designed to detect the presence of an intruder moving within a defined area of a house. They operate either via Ultrasound Beams, or Infrared Beams which are broken when movement is detected.

Pre-packaged alarms At is most basic, these are simple but effective DIY systems, which can be fitted without any wiring, and work on simple radio or microwave technology. These can be purchased direct from manufacturers, or more usually via DIY shops. Ensure they are accredited systems, check with your local Police Force Crime Prevention Officer.

Design and install alarms More advanced wired systems will have to be professionally fitted, and tend to be more technologically advanced, and are more effective in detecting and deterring potential intruders. Most alarms now have the added benefit of being able to be linked to Central Monitoring Stations, which can reduce false alarms, and increase police response, which varies according to the alarm / monitoring system installed. Always ensure that your alarm is maintained at least on a yearly basis, to reduce the risk of false alarms, by a professional recognised or approved installer.

CCTV More and more people are using CCTV to monitor the area around their homes: systems vary widely according to the location and their need for security, but a basic system consists of: l A camera, fitted with a suitable lens for the scene being viewed l A link between the camera and the monitor l A monitor a TV screen or video tape-which shows the scene covered by the camera More complex systems may include many cameras covering a large area, and complex monitoring systems. When you are setting up CCTV for your home or flat, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself before choosing the ideal system: l What area or areas are to be covered, and how much detail do you need? l Are you installing CCTV as a deterrent or will you want to be able to provide clear identification of intruders? l Do you need 24 hour coverage? l If the system is to operate at night, the lighting levels must be sufficient – and if you want colour pictures, the lighting conditions required will alter Think these points through before you design your system – and ask for help and advice from a qualified, accredited supplier/installer.

Access control systems These replace standard locks and keys with an electronically programmable entry, exit and circulation system: they can be used on doors, and barriers to control pedestrian and / or vehicular access, utilising digital keypads with PIN numbers, magnetic cards, proximity devices or high security biometric systems which recognise fingerprints. For the most part, these systems are used by flat owners. Many systems can also be linked to computers to control a single entrance or be programmed to control which areas of a building various individuals are allowed access to, and at what times. For instance, visitors may be allowed to enter via the main entrance, but certain individuals restricted to specified areas of the site. Part-time staff like cleaners and contractors can be given selective access, during an allotted time-slot. When you’re choosing a system like this, always remember to make allowances for any expansion you may be planning or likely to need.

If you require more advice contact: National Approval Council for Security Systems, Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board, Dyno Locks and Alarms, or your local Crime Prevention Officer.

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Home Security

Your guide to…

Smoke Alarms & Fire Protection Smoke detectors

Fire blankets/extinguishers

A smoke alarm is an early-warning device designed to sense the presence of smoke and fumes before a serious fire develops. Mains -powered detectors incorporate a battery as a back-up. It is possible to connect up to twelve detectors with two-core bell wire. When one detector senses smoke, all the detectors sound the alarm.

Install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, where most fires start. Choose a general purpose extinguisher that complies with BS5423. Domestic extinguishers are designed to tackle small fires only, and should not be used to extinguish a chip pan fire. If the fire gets out of control, call the fire brigade immediately. Position the extinguisher in a prominent position, and close to a door that will provide a safe escape route. Have fire extinguishers checked and serviced regularly. Chip-pan fires are common and easily get out of hand. Turn off the heat source and use a fire blanket to smother the fire. Do not try to move the pan or carry it outside. Take the fire blanket from its dispenser and drape it over the pan to deprive the fire of oxygen. Check that a fire blanket meets BS6575 standards – mount the blanket dispenser next to your fire extinguisher.

Most householders opt for self-contained battery-powered detectors that are very easy to install. This type of detector has a test button to check that the battery is still working, and will even emit an intermittent alarm to indicate that the battery is running low. Some also incorporate a high output escape light that is activated with the alarm to illuminate the area. Make sure a smoke detector conforms to BS 5446 Part 1, and carries the British Standard Kite mark. You should install a smoke detector where it will give you the earliest possible warning of fire, but preferably not directly over a heater or air conditioning vent, nor in bathrooms, or kitchens where it could be triggered by steam. However, some detectors have a built-in ‘pause facility’ which allows you to silence the alarm for a few minutes should it be accidentally activated. In a bungalow, fit a detector to the ceiling of your hallway, halfway between your bedroom and the living areas where a fire is most likely to break out. In a two-storey home, screw one in the hallway, just above the foot of the stairs, and a second detector on the upstairs landing. Most smoke detectors are powered by nine-volt batteries – test your alarm occasionally to check it is working, and change the battery at least once a year or when the low-battery warning sounds. Screw a smoke detector to the ceiling, at least 300mm (1ft) away from the walls and light fittings. If it is more convenient to mount the detector on a wall, it must be at least 150mm (6in) but not more than 300 mm (1ft) below the ceiling.

Carbon monoxide detectors These are now readily available from shops / stores, always follow the manufacturers fitting instructions.


Selecting a security and fire alarm contractor When installing a home security alarm system you should utilise the services of a properly qualified installer, who is a member of a recognised professional approval body such as, NACOSS (The National Approval Council for Security Systems), the electronic security industry’s major approval body, or the (SSAIB) Security Systems and Alarms Inspectorate Board. As an example, NACOSS is an independent inspectorate dedicated to ensuring high standards of installation of security systems. Its approved installers are required to work to the NACOSS Code of Practice and to the relevant standards in force, at all times. They must also follow the rules of the Council, and have – or be committed to achieving – ISO 9002 Quality Management Certification. If you use a fire installation and service company rather than installing your own smoke detectors, they should have LPC and BS 5839 registration, and access to an approved alarm receiving centre. Finally, it is important to note that price doesn’t always indicate quality – good or bad. If you’ve any doubts about who to choose, and what system, it’s a good idea to have a word with your local police crime prevention officer / fire prevention officer.

Fire safety in the home A fire strikes when you least expect it, often during the night. It is essential you know what to do if you have a fire. If you have a fire in your home:

l Get out l Call the fire service out on 999 l Stay out Never try to tackle the fire! It is vital that you have a working smoke detector on each level of you home. Test your smoke alarms regularly and change the battery once a year. Almost all fires can be prevented. Here are a few tips, which could prevent a fire starting in your home. In the kitchen: l Never leave cooking unattended l Do not overfill a chip fryer with oil (one third is the maximum) l Do not hang clothes or tea towels on the cooker to dry Around the home: l Switch off and unplug (if possible) electrical appliances at night, including items such as plug in air fresheners and phone chargers l Do not overload sockets – use a fused adaptor l Never smoke in bed l Always put cigarettes and pipes out properly l Close doors at night l Never dry clothes in front of a fire or heater Think about fire – know how to prevent it and what to do if it happens. Have a plan ready! For more advice on fire safety talk to your local community fire fighters.

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Home Security


n reading this magazine, you are already showing concern about the security of your home; and given that the Home Office statistics state that one home is burgled every forty seconds, you have every right to be concerned.

Your guide to…

Windows & Doors There are many options for ‘profiles’ which are used to produce windows and doors (profiles are basically the ‘frames’). PVC-U windows have over 70% of the market share in the UK, although you can buy soft and hard wood or aluminium profiles. It is very important that you can choose a product that incorporate the latest security features, affording you, the householder, maximum protection. When discussed with your insurance company or broker, this can lead to possible savings of up to 30%. For full security purposes when you are not at home remove keys from windows and doors. This will make it more difficult for burglars to remove larger items in the unfortunate event of them gaining access to your property. We will concentrate on PVC-U windows as they are the most popular choice of householders. Listed below are some of the main features you should be aware of when shopping for PVC-U windows and doors:

Door security Ensure that the company supplying your doors reinforce the frame and sash with either steel or aluminium, whilst making sure that all locks, hinges and fittings can be located within it. It is also important that if door panels are used in the sash, they are also reinforced. DO NOT purchase doors that are only secured by roller cams, as these are only used to reduce the amount of force required to operate the door. You should be looking to purchase doors with multi point locking, which offers a combination of hooks and deadbolts. It is also possible to install shootbolts, which locate into the outer frame steel or aluminium. Securing of the locking points is, in the case of lever/lever handles done by raising the handle and then final locking with a key, thus preventing unlocking operation without the key. Ensure the lock barrels themselves are manufactured from a drill resistant material for additional security. As in the case of window hinges, more security can be obtained on doors by fitting high security ones, which

again should locate into the reinforcement. All of these products can be obtained and fitted by your local installer. Lookout for doors tested to new security standard, BS PAS 24.

Wooden doors When installing a wooden door to replace an existing one or because it is more cost effective, it is important to consider that most front doors are fitted with a rim latch which locks automatically when the door is closed but can be opened again from the inside without a key. Therefore, for additional protection, you should consider installing the following:

Window security As with doors, window frames and sashes should be reinforced with steel or aluminium, allowing hardware to be fixed within it. High security hinges which locate into the window frame, and have hardened steel arms can be fitted, which affords more security than standard friction hinges, whilst not affecting the smooth operation. This prevents prising open the sash, which burglars can carry out relatively quickly and quietly. Once again, as for doors, locking can be achieved by shootbolts or hooks, which locate into specially designed striker plates and reinforcing, again preventing jemmy use. The window handles should be lockable, and are usually key operated, and provided the keys are removed when no one is at home, this prevents the burglar from breaking the glass, and being able to open them. Lookout for windows that have attained the British Board of Agrément ‘Assessment for the Enhanced Resistance to Intrusion’.

l A  utomatic dead lock (this locks the door automatically as soon as it is closed but when locked with a key on the outside disables the door from being opened from the inside

Also choose doors that are internally beaded, preventing the unit being removed from the outside, however, windows can be internally or externally beaded, as the aesthetics the customer requires can vary. When externally beaded windows are made for an installer, the glass should be secured by security clips or high security glazing tape, both of which prevent it’s removal from the outside.

l C  hains (these allow you to speak to strangers witout allowing them in)


l M  ortice deadlock (fit a five lever deadlock about a third of the way up the door. One kite marked BS3621 should satisfy most insurance requirements. With a deadlock, should a thief gain entry to your property, they will not be able to leave via the door with your possessions

For even further peace of mind, ask your window installer if they offer the insurance of guarantees, should they unfortunately cease to trade, or wish to retire.

l H  inges (check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws)

One last, but very important point is to ask yourself “if there is a fire, how do we get out safely?”.

Patio doors When deciding on patio doors, be sure that the ones you choose slide on the inside, as this makes it much more secure, preventing them from being lifted out of the frame. Security locking can be achieved by the fitting of hook and shootbolts, thus preventing lifting.

French doors: French doors are a popular point of entry. When choosing, care must be taken to ensure that your installer can fit mortice or shootbolts to both the top and bottom of the door. It is important that you mention when discussing the products, any special requirements you may have, for example door viewers and security chains, at it is much easier for acceptance of these to be prepared for in the factory.

Safety advice l K  now where all keys are for door and window locks, and also advise any visitors l W  ithin your window design, ensure that there is sufficient area to escape from non Ground Floor situations l M  ake sure you can detect a fire by fitting smoke alarms

If you have any doubts contact a local locksmith who is a member of the Master Locksmiths’ Association or visit

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Home Security

Your guide to…

Protecting Your Possessions Ultra violet Ultra-violet pens can be used to write your postcode on property – but although this method might lead to detection of a casual thief selling your property in a pub, the marking is easily located with a UV lamp and can be removed with washing up liquid, so it will not deter the professional. It also fades after about six months, so it should be renewed regularly.

Property marking Is about deterring burglars from stealing your property by removing the ‘desire factor’. Burglars have been known to leave personal possessions at the scene of a burglary as they had been property marked. When something is marked a burglar often finds it hard to ‘sell on’ as ‘fences’ and ‘buyers’ are aware that they are then involved in the theft, and as such, marked goods drastically loose their appeal, after all, why buy someone else’s postcode! Furthermore even if the police recover property stolen from you, you are unlikely to get it back unless it can be identified. And if it can’t be identified, the thief – if caught – cannot be prosecuted and the goods often are returned to the thief! So in more ways than one, it makes real sense to mark your property to identify it. Various ways of marking are easily and economically available, they are called visible or overt and covert methods.

Overt markings Engraving / chemical etching An engraving tool or stamp is an effective and inexpensive way to permanently mark your property – but you may not want to spoil the look of some items in this way, and unfortunately the determined criminal may take the time to alter the markings so that they are unrecognisable, the down side is that in so doing the thief can disfigure the item.



When choosing a covert marking system, though, it’s essential to check out the back up system. If a PIN code is used, rather than a postcode, the system is only as good as the database supplied to the police for their use. There are several types of databases, pin code, property registration database, manufacturer serial number and warranty database or photographic database. So with these systems, as with all the others, it’s worth talking to your local Crime Prevention Officer. Even though they can’t endorse any product, they will readily provide you with sound advice.

Any plate, label or sticker which is easy to remove or alter is, of course, a waste of time, therefore buy products with a ‘good’ glue or chemical bonding – ‘etching’ stencil labels leave a mark which is harder to remove. Once again, though, they are visible and so may not be appropriate for some items.

Security safes

Covert markings

Smaller than standard safes, and costing less, floor and wall safes offer a reasonable level of security.

Covert – or secret – marking is available in several forms, and apart from UV marking, is more expensive, but has proved to be quite successful in terms of both deterrence and recovery. Because the thief can’t see the marking – which could be a microdot, a DNA / chemical solution, or an electronic tagging system (RFID) or tracking device – they can’t eradicate it without either dismantling the possession or doing permanent damage. The thief can’t even be sure they have removed the security. Used with a warning sign, it becomes both a good deterrent and a lasting identification device.

It is advisable to take advice from professionals on this topic, however there are two main types of residential safes to look at.

Floor and wall safes

Combination safes These can only be opened with the correct combination, so they eliminate the need for, and risk from, keys. Always check with your insurer about the amount of cover available for valuables stored in a specific safe in your home.

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Home Security


l b  e placed in two separate locations on the bicycle and not on any part which is easily removed and replaced.

Nowadays a bicycle can be a costly personal item, here are some basic security tips for cycle owners.

How to mark your bicycle

l Don’t leave your bicycle in isolated places. l P  ark your bicycle safely and considerately where it will not cause a danger or obstruction to others. l Always lock your bicycle when you leave it.

Computers and IT equipment With the ‘rich pickings’ offered by computer and IT equipment, many burglars are becoming increasingly opportunist – knowing that even if they’ve set an alarm off, they can escape with these valuable items in a moment, before help has arrived. It’s well worth, therefore, taking some special – and inexpensive – steps to provide additional protection for your equipment, which is not only valuable in itself, but which may also carry irreplaceable personal data, one such method would be to security mark your equipment and ‘chips’. Other ways include:

Security cable Multi-strand steel security cable, covered in PVC, firmly securing your equipment to a table, desk, shelf or wall using a bracket and padlock or locking hasp will delay any thief and prevent them from ‘snatching’ the equipment.

Equipment alarms If a thief takes the equipment, they take the noise of the alarm with them… which means they will soon abandon the crime, or be apprehended. Alarms can be fitted inside the computer and can also have an anti-tamper switch which is triggered if a thief attempts to get inside the computer casing to steal valuable components.

l g ive clear information that will quickly lead the finder to the owner of the bicycle.

Your postcode, together with your house or flat number, or the first two letters of your house name, provides a simple and unique way of identifying your bicycle. For example, a person living at 221b, Baker Street, London, NW1 6XL would mark their bicycle NW1 6XL 221b.

l R  emove smaller parts that cannot be secured and taken them with you.

There is a range of marking systems on the market – engraving, etching, ceramic marking, punching, die stamping. Choose one that is safe and simple to use. You can buy easy to use property marking kits from stationers, DIY stores and bicycle shops. Ask your local crime prevention officer for help and advice.

Locks and bolts

Registration schemes

There are many different products on the market. You should look for products that have been tested against attack. Look at the packaging and ask your retailer for advice, but try and look for a product tested to guard against the dedicated thief – you need one which has resisted attack for five minutes.

If you choose this method make sure that:

l U  se proper cycle anchors or robust street furniture – such as trees, parking meters and railings (observing requests not to use them) – for securing your bicycle. l Lock the wheels and other detachable parts.

Marking Marking your bike can act as a deterrent to theft and may also help the police to return it to you if it is stolen and subsequently recovered. To be effective, a security marking must: l b  e clearly visible. Hidden marks do not deter theft unless they are backed up  by visibile ones – a tamper proof label for instance. l b  e securely fixed. If it comes off easily and leaves no trace then it won’t deter a thief.

l t he security mark applied meets all the criteria mentioned above. l t he mark is accompanied by the company’s telephone number. l t he company you use is following the National Cycling Forum’s Code of Practice for security marking and registration of pedal cycles that has been endorsed by the police, Home Office and Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions. If your bike is hijacked whilst you are riding, notify the police immediately, establish if there were any witnesses and try and memorise identifying features of the ‘Jacker’. Finally, keep your own record of your bicycle – make and model, frame number and colour. A photograph can also help.

Lock down systems These range from plates which lock the bottom of the computer to the desk or table, to steel cases which enclose the equipment in a locked, secured box. Although these systems are more expensive, they offer the highest level of security – preventing the computer from being moved, or being opened up.

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IT Security

Your guide to…

Internet and email security Internet shopping The Internet has already established itself as a world wide market place where a large variety of goods and services can be purchased. Many people are still unsure how safe it is to use credit or debit cards while shopping on-line. The following advice can help to minimise any risk and reduce the potential for fraud. Always use secure sites when shopping on-line. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari and Firefox, for example, contain security features which allow them to communicate safely with such sites. When a secure site is accessed by a ‘web browser’, a padlock symbol appears whilst Navigator displays either a padlock or unbroken key. If the symbol is a broken key or open padlock this indicates that it is an insecure site. Using secure sites reduces the risk of card details being intercepted and misused. Always deal with reputable retailers whose names you recognise or who have been recommended to you by a trusted source (for example magazine, newspaper or knowledgeable friend). If you have any doubts, obtain the retailers telephone number and postal address and contact them by traditional methods to confirm their identity and conditions of the offer. If you cannot contact them in this manner do not proceed with the transaction. Important points to remember: l A  lways confirm delivery guarantees and check the retailers return and refund policy l K  eep back-ups and print outs of all on-line documentation, advertisement, e-mails and acknowledgement messages created during the transaction l N  ever disclose your card or bank details as proof of age or identity l N  ever transmit financial details by ordinary e-mail l N  ever publish your card or bank details in newsgroups, bulletin boards or chat rooms l A  lways check card and bank statements carefully for discrepancies. l I f you find questionable debits contact the retailer and your bank or card issuer as a matter of urgency l N  EVER visit a site from an e-mail link,  type it in directly to your browser  (see ‘phishing’)


Chat rooms and message boards

l Don’t harass, abuse or threaten other surfers

Chat Rooms, message boards and newsgroups give you a place to meet online, interact and share ideas with each other.

l D  on’t post content that infringes the legal rights of others, such as material that is defamatory or that makes use of copyrighted content without permission from the owner

Here are some key points to remember:

l A  dult-oriented content is permitted only in areas marked as Adult Content

l T  reat people with respect as you’d expect them to treat you, this is basic ‘netiquette’ and as the name implies it is simply etiquette online, after all, you are interacting with real people, not just machines l D  on’t respond to flaming and trolling (provocation online) l Choose a genderless screen name l D  on’t flirt, unless you’re prepared for the consequences. This is like real life. Yes, you have the right to flirt. And you have the right to a sexy nickname. Sometimes it’s better just to back off a bit and not exercise all your rights all the time l S ave offending messages and report them to your service provider l D  on’t give out any personal information about yourself or anyone else l G  et out of a situation online that has become hostile. Log off or surf elsewhere

l D  on’t post content that is obscene or otherwise objectionable

l C  heck to see if the site is using up to date software as they themselves may be hacked leaving your details at risk If you do choose to meet in realtime with someone you have chatted with please follow these simple precautions: l A  lways meet in a busy place ie: (pub, cafe, station etc) l A  lways try to arrange a meeting without giving away too many personal details l A  lways tell an adult or immediate family where you are going and what time you are expected back. l A  t your meeting be firm and calm if you feel the meeting is not working out (also refer to personal safety sections of this magazine for helpful advice) l I llegal content can be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation at

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IT Security Hacking A home user’s computer can be prone to attack when on-line. There are certain simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. When on-line some programs such as ICQ and other real time chat software need to act as a server to function correctly. When using these programs you could be vulnerable to attack as your computer has to “open up” more of its resources to the Internet. Always make sure that you are using the latest version of your software. With normal dial-up modems you are connected to the Internet for relatively short periods. This keeps the chance of attack relatively low. However, with broadband and cable services user’s systems become “always on” with a constant connection to the Internet. This leaves a continuous footprint to your presence. The best solution is a “firewall”, a device that prevents outsiders from hacking into your computer. It is usually a stand-alone computer or boxed device that acts as a single access point between your system and the Internet and vice versa. It hides your system from other users on the Internet, as well as controlling connection requests from outside systems. There are also software versions of firewalls available for home users at a relatively low cost and are well worth investing in and some operating systems such as Apple’s OS X have them built in. Some of these are available on cover discs of computer magazines or can be downloaded from the Internet. Simply enter “firewall” into your search engine and follow the links. Other than stealing your data, hacking can also turn your machine into what is called a ‘zombie’ which can be logged into remotely and used to send ‘spam’, this slows your machine, but doesn’t stop it running, however it may get you banned by your service provider for sending out ‘spam’.

Internet scams and ‘phishing’ As a powerful tool for communicating, the internet is attractive to con-men and fraudsters. Always remember if an offer looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is. It is often helpful to think about how you would respond to a request made online if it happened to you in the street, for example if a stranger approached you saying you had inherited money from a relative you don’t have, won a lottery you didn’t enter or asked for your bank PIN number. Some of these scams are technically quite sophisticated and look plausible, but be careful and check if you are not sure before handing over security or bank information or money to anyone. Often these scams look like e-mails from your bank or online services such as ‘e-bay’ which tell of a security leak and ask you to log on to check your details. The link provided in the email takes you to a clone of the site they are pretending to represent, and when you log in, they have your security details and log in on your behalf to steal your money and or identity. This is known as ‘phishing’. Know who you are dealing with. Always access Internet banking by typing the banks address into your web browser. Never go to a website from a link in an e-mail and enter personal details. If in doubt, contact the bank separately on an advertised number. Keep passwords and PINS safe. Always be wary of unsolicited e-mails or calls asking you to disclose any personal details or card numbers. keep this information secret. Be wary of disclosing any personal information to someone you don’t know. Your bank and the police would never contact you to ask you to disclose PINs or all your password information.

Keep hold of your cash! Don’t be conned by convincing e-mails offering you the chance to make some easy money. Remember if it looks too good to be true it probably is! Be especially wary of unsolicited e-mails from outside the UK – it will be much harder to prove they are who they say they are.

Viruses What is a virus? A virus is a computer program that has been written to attach itself to other files or programs and to duplicate itself when those programs are run. They can be easily spread across the Internet. Some display offensive messages on the screen, while others are designed to destroy data. Viruses can either activate immediately or can sit on the users system waiting for a particular time. Always use an up-to-date anti-virus program that will automatically monitor your system when you are accessing the Internet. Please read your user manual or documentation for more information on how to do this. Make sure that you update your anti-virus software on a regular basis. This can usually be done by downloading updates from the Internet. Be careful when opening e-mail attachments (files sent with an e-mail message) as these can contain viruses and will be activated when you open them. As a general rule, be wary of any email you receive from an address you don’t know, especially if it contains an attachment. If you are not sure don’t open it.

Parental Controls Utilise software designed to work at the desktop or laptop level that lets you control access to the Internet and applications on your computer. Many software packages utilise a user interface combined with flexible configuration options, to allow you to have complete control to set up filtering options as desired, to control when, where, how, and to whom access is blocked or allowed. You should be able to vary the filteringsettings in the following areas: l Amount of access time – when/how long l L  evel of access (blocked, allowed, or filtered) to the Internet and applications l L  ists of sites to be blocked or allowed – CyberLISTs (or sub-categories) and / or your own lists l S ites containing specific keywords to block or allow

Useful Links Government advice on Online Safety Government advice on Internet Use For further advice on Neighbourhood Watch visit LNWA’s own website at: or

l Specific applications to restrict l Filtering inbound and outbound chat Also check with your ISP as they may well have parental control filters for internet and e-mail usage.

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hilst the following tips may seem obvious, it is often the obvious we ignore, so spend a few minutes reading through the appropriate section for you.

Personal Safety Tips Public transport Taxis and minicabs

ordered it from and the name of the company so that they know when to expect you and how to trace you if you’re late.

Do not hail a minicab from the street or accept a lift from a minicab touting for trade. This is illegal and you have no guarantee that the driver is in fact a minicab driver at all. You are also not insured in the event of an accident if you hail down a minicab as you have not been registered by the company as a passenger. Black cabs can be hailed legally and safely.

Do not approach a car that you think is your cab – they should approach you. Ask for driver ID before getting into the car. Make sure it identifies the driver as being from the company you rang to order the car. Ask the driver the name and destination he has been given to check he/she is your driver. Don’t get into a cab you haven’t ordered.

Plan ahead how to get home before you go out. Making decisions before you go out is much safer, particularly if you are going to be drinking.

Sit in the back of the car. Carry a personal alarm with you as an extra precaution.

Take a business card with you when you go out with the telephone number of a reputable minicab or taxi company, and telephone for the cab when you need it. Alternatively, walk to a nearby minicab office to order a cab.

l T  ry to stay away from isolated bus stops, especially after dark

If you are at a club, pub or restaurant and do not have the number of a cab company, ask staff if they can recommend one. Try to go home with a friend, preferably to the same address. You could arrange for them to stay over at your place or vice versa – this can also save a bit of money. Whenever possible, ask for the driver’s name, make and colour of car. If you are going to a friend’s house, you could telephone to let them know that you’ve ordered a cab, where you’ve


Buses and Trains

l E  nsure young children carry contact numbers with them in case of separation l D  o not give your tickets to touts – they are used to buy drugs l O  nly use the black cabs from the taxi rank in front of the station l B  e alert for any unattended bags or luggage – if you see something or someone that looks suspicious, please contact the nearest staff member l K  eep your luggage with you at all times – this helps avoid unnecessary security alerts and delays l I f you are travelling with a backpack, take it off and stand over it on the floor of the carriage – this takes up less room

l O  n an empty bus, sit near the driver or conductor l O  n a train, sit in a compartment where there are several other people – ideally one which will be near the exit of your destination l Check to see where the emergency chain is l B  e aware that pickpockets and thieves operate at some larger stations l R  emain aware when using ATM’s on or near stations – report any suspicious behaviour to police l P  eople with disabilities should check station facilities before they travel

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Safety Personal safety

When in alone

Advice for senior citizens

l Fit and use a door chain and viewer

l Secure all windows and doors

Although it may appear that senior citizens are particularly at risk from crime, statistically this isn’t the case.

l W  omen who live alone should use only their initials and surnames in nameplates and directories

However, by taking a few simple steps a lot can be done to make the home feel a safer place. For just a small outlay you could fit good quality locks to doors and windows, install a door viewer and put a chain on the front door and buy peace of mind.

l Don’t admit strangers to your home

Never keep a large amount of money in the house. Cash is safer in the bank, post office or building society than stuffed under a mattress. And don’t keep your cheque book and cheque card together.

When shopping

Keep an eye out for neighbours and they will keep an eye out for you. If you see anything that worries you, tell the local police. Join the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme or talk to your local crime prevention officer about setting one up. Consider a monitored alarm with personal attack button, there are even products that you can wear round your wrist or as a medallion that will contact a neighbour, relative or the authorities if activated.

l D  on’t put your handbag down where it can be stolen easily

Don’t let strangers in to your home. They may say they are from the gas, water or electricity company, but always ask to see some identification. If you are in any doubt, do not let them into your home.

Advice for parents 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. However, it’s still a good idea to teach children some family safety rules. 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 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 find 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 through a window is not good enough. If a shop won’t let you take a pram in, either go to a different shop or take the child out of the pram. Don’t leave your baby in the charge of another child. He or she needs an adult to look after them. Don’t leave small children in unsupervised play areas in shops, restaurants and shopping

l W  hen answering the phone don’t let strangers know you are alone l R  eport all suspicious incidents to the  police immediately

l C  arry your handbag close to your body and beware of persons approaching from front or rear

l I f someone snatches your bag, don’t fight, you may be injured. Get as good a description as possible and tell the police immediately l I f suitably dressed carry your purse and keys in your coat pocket centres. You, or a trusted minder, need to stay with them all the time. Don’t ask strangers to “keep an eye” on children – even while you are in a queue at a café 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 lost. It can be difficult to find a good babysitter. Parents must carefully consider any person left in charge of their children as child molesters, many companies exist to supply reputable child minders. Discreetly monitor internet chat exchanges or discourage it (refer to internet / email securtity section of this magazine). 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.

When out alone l Where possible don’t walk alone after dark

l D  on’t leave your purse on top of your shopping bag or pram l Avoid unlit or deserted car parks or areas l D  on’t carry excessive amounts of money in your handbag l D  on’t carry your credit cards and cheque book in the same bag

When in your car l W  here possible always try to travel on main or well used roads l A  lways lock your car after entering it or leaving it l C  heck the interior before entering, especially the back seat l Keep all valuables out of sight l Park in well lit areas l I f followed home don’t get out of the car, make sure the doors are locked, sound the horn or flash your lights to attract attention l E  nsure your car is mechanically sound  and you have enough petrol to get you to your destination

l Always be alert

l D  on’t stop to help others – drive on and report it by phone

l Avoid shortcuts and dark deserted areas

l Never pick up hitch-hikers

l W  alk near the kerb away from bushes  and buildings l Walk facing the traffic l Do not hitch-hike l Carry a torch after dark l T  o avoid delay keep your keys in hand when approaching car or home l I f attacked scream and shout as loud as you can

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Safety Protect your mobile phone Young people are especially vulnerable to mobile phone robbery. The following guidelines will help you to protect your mobile.

What you can do To make it difficult for thieves to use your phone, please record the details requested on this page and keep the details in a safe place. These details will be needed by the police if you report your phone stolen. The 15digit IMEI number is specific to your phone and can be accessed by keying *#O6# into your phone. These details can enable police and service providers to trace ownership quickly. l A  lways use your phone’s security lock code or PIN number. l S ecurity mark the phone and battery with your postcode and street number or the first two letters of your house name. Your police crime reduction office can advise on property marking, including mobile phone marking using micro dots (fences don’t like such products and tend not to buy them, thus reducing the level of theft.

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

l I f you are babysitting, get a number where you can contact the child’s parents. If anyone comes to the house, don’t let them in. Don’t tell telephone callers you are alone, and keep a list of emergency numbers in case of problems.

l B  e sure your parents know where you are, and how to contact you.

l O  n a paper round, never go into a stranger’s house or take a lift.

l G  o out accompanied by friends, and return home with them. If you do go out alone, arrange transport for your return journey before you leave. Get a lift or taxi there  and back.

l W  hen walking home, stay in illuminated areas, don’t walk across dark commons or empty waste grounds.

Advice for young people

l I f you are out and your lift or taxi doesn’t turn up, ask to use a telephone to find out why not or use your mobile if you have one. Ask to stay until your lift turns up. When telephoning, ask for the taxi driver’s name, and check this with the driver when he or she arrives. l D  on’t take a lift with someone you have just met. l I f you are looking for casual jobs, like babysitting, do it through a family or friend. Be careful about answering advertisements. l I f you answer an advert, go with a parent or friend on the first day.


l W  hen using your phone, be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. As an example, don’t walk down a busy street talking on your phone. l A  void wearing your phone where it is in public view. Keep it with you at all times and do not leave it unattended. l D  o not give your mobile phone to strangers who ask to use it, unless they threaten you. l D  on’t stay on the phone for too long making yourself an obvious target.

l D  on’t talk to strangers, just ignore them and carry on walking, if in doubt, run and shout for help, if a shop or restaurant nearby is open, go in and explain you are worried! If you have a mobile phone, call for help whilst walking away.


l S tay in sight of CCTV cameras if you know they are in your area.

If your phone is stolen, contact your service provider and give these details to the police:

l I f you’ve arranged to meet someone from an internet chat room, take an adult, meet in a busy location, tell your parents where you are or better still, don’t do it. Remember, people on the internet may not be who they say they are! l D  on’t give out personal information on the internet that would allow someone to meet you, even if you don’t want them to.

l I t is a crime to report a false claim of theft l I t is a crime to re-programme the IMEI of any phone

l Model details l Phone number l IMEI number l PIN number l M  icro dot pin number (if you have ‘dotted’ your phone)

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Safety Bogus doorstep callers Unfortunately, you can’t always be sure that people turning up on your doorstep are who they say they are. Bogus callers, as they are sometimes called, can be very convincing and very persuasive. They may say that their car has broken down and they need to phone someone for help. They may pretend to be a workman, saying that they need to check your electricity or water. They may try to sell you something. They might even claim to be from the council and that they are carrying out a local survey. Whatever reason a caller gives, you need to be sure that they aren’t just trying to get into your home to steal something. There are over 16,000 incidents of “distraction burglary” each year, where callers get into homes and then steal cash or valuables while the occupier is distracted in some way. Sometimes they work in pairs, with one doing the talking while the other is stealing and they often target the elderly. Be on your guard every time the doorbell rings, or there’s a knock at your door. Look out of your window to see who’s there first and if you don’t know who the person is, open the window slightly and talk to them that way, rather than opening your door. Alternatively, have a viewer fitted in your front door so that you can take a good look at who’s there first. If your eyesight isn’t so good, don’t worry as you can now get wideangle viewers to help you see better. Put the door chain or door bar on before opening the door and talk through the gap. You could even fit a small mirror to the wall next to the door so that you can easily see the person you are talking to. When the caller has left and you’ve closed the door, don’t forget to unhook the chain so that any friend or relative you have given a key to can still get in. Make sure your back door is locked if someone knocks at your front door. Sometimes thieves work together with one coming in the back way, while the other keeps you talking at the front.

How to check that callers are genuine Here is some simple advice to follow to help you make sure that your caller is genuine. LOCK – always keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home or just popping out briefly. STOP – think before you open your door. Are you expecting anyone? Do they have an appointment? If you can, look/talk to them through your door or a window. CHAIN – secure the door bar or chain before opening the door. CHECK – use a door viewer if you have one to see the caller – ask the caller for proof of identity or identity card. Check it carefully, but keep the chain on. l I f the caller doesn’t have an appointment, tell them to wait outside while you ring their office to confirm their identity. Use the number from the phone book and not a number on any ID card provided by the caller. If the caller is legitimate then you can ask them to call back when you can have a friend or family member with you. l R  emember – genuine callers will not mind if you check. If you have any suspicions at all – do not let the caller into your home.  If you think you may be at risk then call the Police – dial 999. l S ome service companies operate a password system to verify the caller’s status. Contact your local Water / Gas / Electricity company to find out more. l I f you don’t have a chain or viewer then you should try to have them fitted – contact the crime prevention or community safety officer at your local Police station for advice. l B  e aware that many Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators will email or telephone vulnerable people to let them know of any bogus doorstep callers operating in their local area.

Coldcalling protocol There has also been a ‘doorstop coldcalling’ Protocol launched in 2002. ‘Foot in the Door’, is to warn the British public of distraction burglary and educate them on personal safety in their homes. The Cold Calling Protocol was signed by many of the larger organisations that appear on our doorsteps such as British Gas, British Telecom, Yorkshire Water, NPower, Powergen and Transco. The protocol requires that, where possible, representatives will have previously notified appointments. When this is not possible, the representative will: 1. p  hysically hand their identification card to the householder and declare their name and organisation. They will request that the householder compares their face with the photograph on the card and explain that they will not enter until the householder does so. 2. c arry a larger identification card for examination by persons with sight difficulties. This card will bear print of at least size / font 14 and enlarged photograph. 3. explain the purpose of their visit. 4. e xplain that the householder can check their identification by telephoning their organisation and they can arrange for attendance of a third party, e.g. a neighbour, if they wish. 5. m  ake it clear that they will not enter the house unless the householder is happy for them to do so. 6. a lways be happy to return at a later date / time if the householder requests. 7. t he organisation will provide a landline telephone number, preferably freephone, to facilitate employee bona-fide checks. This telephone number must be a direct line to a person / people and not utilise automated call management systems. Where possible this number should also be listed in the public telephone directory and other company advertising material.

Keeping the chain on the door, ask callers from the council or any other organisation to pass through some identification. If you need your glasses to check this don’t think it’s rude to close the door and go and get them. A genuine caller won’t mind. If you’re still not sure, ask the caller to leave and tell them to write and make an appointment so that someone else can be with you the next time they call. The basic rule is if you don’t know the person at your door don’t let them in.

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Safety Choosing a reliable tradesman Rather than waiting for someone to knock on your door it is often better to find a reliable trader yourself. l S peak to your local authories Trading Standards, or l A  sk neighbours, families and friends for recommendations. l D  o not contract for the work until you have got at least three written quotes from similar businesses. Ask for references from the tradesman and contact them. l Make sure the quotes state: • What work will be carried out • The full price including VAT •W  hen the work will be started  and finished l Y  our local Age Concern Branch may run a scheme to supply a handyman or gardener at a small charge. l A  ny work carried out by the contractor must be of reasonable quality and completed within a reasonable and agreed time limit.

Gas and electricity suppliers l Y  ou can choose which gas and electricity supplier you want. All suppliers are licensed by the Government’s energy regulator, OFGEM. l Y  ou may be able to save money by changing your supplier, but you do not have to change. It is entirely your decision. l I f you do change, the actual gas and electricity will stay the same, but you will pay a different company. l I f you talk to a gas or electricity salesman, ask them: • How much they charge. •H  ow you can pay – this will include cheque and direct debit, but if you pay  by cash ask where you can pay your bills.  Ask how often they will bill you. l T  he amount you pay will depend on the way you pay. You will get the cheapest rates if you agree to pay by direct debit. l S ome companies have a standing charge, but others charge more for some of the gas or electricity. l I f you are a pensioner, you should ask to  go on your suppliers’ Priority Service Register. This is free and can give you some extra services.


l T  he LNWA have teamed up with “Domestic and General Plc” a leading independent supplier of Boiler Protection. All their appointed repairers are reputable, vetted tradesmen, who abide by a professional code of conduct. Many  operate a password system when calling  at your door. l T  ry not to feel pressurised by a salesman. Do not sign for anything unless you are sure you want to change supplier. Salesmen do not have the right to enter your home. l I f you are telephoned by a salesman and you tell him on the phone you agree to change supplier, this will form a legal contract. BUT…

l A  rrange a pre- set time and date for the trader to call to start the work. l D  o not pay any money for the work unless you are satisfied the work is of an acceptable quality. Before you pay the bill get a neighbour, friend or relative to look at the completed work to confirm the work has been carried out with reasonable care and skill. l D  o not accept transport to your bank or building society in order to withdraw money to pay for the work. l I f things do go wrong contact your Trading Standards Service or your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice, as a last resort contact the police if you feel threatened.

l Y  ou have the right to cancel a contract within seven days of agreeing to it. If you find your supplier changes without your knowledge, this can be reversed by contacting either the new supplier or the old supplier.

EnergyWatch is an organisation set up to deal with queries about gas and electricity suppliers. If you have problems that you cannot sort out with your supplier then contact Energywatch:

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Identity Theft… What are you doing to protect yourself?


dentity theft is now one of the fastest growing frauds in the UK. Given that London, on average, experiences twice the incidents of fraud relative to other UK regions, identity theft is something that the Capital’s residents need to take seriously and actively protect themselves against.

Identity theft is a low-risk, high-profit crime that involves one person stealing the identity of another to obtain mortgages, loans, credit cards, goods and services, in the name of an innocent victim. Identifying documents can be stolen through various and wide-ranging means from bin raiding to computer hacking. Once in possession of these personal details, it can take a criminal only a matter of hours to run up thousands of pounds of debt. The case study below illustrates both how simple identity theft is to commit, and how devastating the consequences can be. Identity theft can have far reaching consequences both financially and emotionally. It can be months before a victim knows that their identity has been stolen – by which time they could owe thousands of pounds. Once aware they are a victim, estimates show that it takes on average 300 hours to put their records straight. Not only can identity theft cost a victim thousands of pounds but it can also ruin their reputation, destroy their hard earned credit rating and also affect their job prospects. Recent independent research showed that nine out of ten Londoners are concerned about identity theft. So what are you doing to protect yourself? There are a number of simple steps you can take to minimise the risk of becoming a victim, including but not limited to, the following: l S hred your personal documents after use before disposing in the dustbin l S tore your documents in a secure place and do not carry them on your person unless absolutely necessary l E  nsure your mail arrives through a personal mail box, and if you go away or move consider engaging re-direction services

Recent independent “research showed that 9 out of 10 Londoners are concerned about identity theft. So what are you doing to protect yourself?

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Your Money

Your guide to…

Financial Security N ow more than ever, householders feel the added stress and anxiety of their financial security as the media talks constantly about increasing consumer debt, falling housing prices, rising costs of living, rising unemployment, reduced benefits and the like. It is all confusing and worrying to most.

Many householders live in daily fear of debt, or they know a family member or friend who is financially struggling. The main thing to do is not to become stressed and not to cut too many corners. Trying to save money by not insuring, as an example, may seem realistic but equally is a high risk strategy. Simple planning and reviewing all opportunities to assess your financial security may seem basic suggestions, but they can help. Always seek help, there’s lots of it out there and in many cases it’s free. The Citizens Advice Bureau is a good first point of call, there is also Moneymadeclear, a service provided by the Financial Services Authority in partnership with the Government. Your Local Council can offer advice, and many other organisations can offer help. Don’t think you are alone. In many cases there is a way to escape financial problems and for those who may have assets or savings, there may be ways to improve your income or secure your investments.


Being financially secure often does not mean having no debt, merely being better able to manage your financial position whether now or for the future. We do not mean to sound depressing when talking about financial security. There are a lot of positives to be had when reviewing your circumstances and perhaps looking to the future. It may be that you have overlooked something simple like changing credit card companies or making a saving on your energy provider. You may be able to make a saving on your insurance by shopping around. It may be that you could be due a windfall from something simple like a recent accident that was not your fault that you could claim for. Always remain upbeat and be prepared to explore all opportunities within the bounds of the law.

Sites to visit for further guidance include: Another good independent site to visit for financial savings and advice is: run by money saving guru and journalist Martin Lewis. Remember, it is always advisable to get impartial professional independent advice in the first instance when dealing with financial matters.

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Your Money

Your guide to…

Equity Release D ue to the high interest shown by readers, we have prepared the following section to help interested parties review options available today to financially secure their futures. The issue of surviving with a limited income effects many of us, there are ways in which you can plan for retirement or indeed enjoy retirement. The following are merely suggestions, you should always take advice before entering into any financial arrangement.

Many retired people who manage on a small pension and limited savings are also living in properties which, particularly in Greater London, even with the recent house prices falls, are still worth a great deal of money. Equity release plans – also called lifetime mortgages, home reversion or home income plans – are a way of releasing cash, whether to buy that new car, to pay for a holiday or home improvements, or simply to make daily life more comfortable. These schemes essentially allow you to borrow money against the value of your home, with the debt being repaid from the sale proceeds after your death.

An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) will look at your overall finances to see if equity release is really the best option for you, and will find the right type of scheme.

Equity release plans – their attractive features: l T  hey can give a lump sum, a regular income or both. l M  oney released from the value of your principle residence is free of tax, although if the cash is then invested there may be tax to pay on any income or growth.

How equity release plans work

l Y  ou don’t have to move house or sell your home to unlock equity. With reputable equity release schemes there is a rocksolid guarantee that you will be able to continue to live in and enjoy your home until the day you die.

While there are a range of different schemes offering lump sums and / or regular income, they all work on the same principle: they lend you a part of your home’s value in return for a share of the proceeds when you die. In most cases you will need to be at least sixty years old, have no outstanding mortgage (or you will need to use the equity release money to pay down the existing loan), and own a property in reasonable condition.

l T  he value of many properties means that IHT is no longer something only the rich have to pay. Equity release plans are a perfectly legal way of mitigating inheritance tax. They could be used, for example, to give a child or grandchild the deposit to buy their own property.

Equity release plans can be complicated products and are a major step for many people. Your house is almost certainly the most expensive asset you own; it is also your home. Good advice is essential.

l I f you don’t have children or family to leave your property to, then equity release might seem an even more attractive concept.

l T  hey can also be used to pay for care bills without having to sell up at what can be a traumatic enough time. Equity release will not suit everyone. It is always worth considering whether funds could be raised affordably from other sources before going down this route.

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Your Money Types of equity release schemes

Important points

Here are the main equity release schemes.

While equity release plans can be a good way of cutting inheritance tax bills, they will also reduce what your family will inherit. While it should ultimately be your choice whether to sign up to a scheme, it is probably a good idea to discuss it with close family members and / or anyone who might have expected to inherit your home. This may help avoid any unpleasantness or misunderstandings. Children or other relatives may be prepared to help you out financially instead of you taking out an equity release. They could then inherit the whole property. An IFA will be able to advise on any tax issues involved.

Home reversion schemes You sell your home or a share of it to a reversion company for a lump sum or in return for a monthly income (or a combination of both). Technically you become a tenant, albeit with the right to continue living in your home rent-free (or sometimes for a nominal rent) for the rest of your life. When the property is sold – usually when you die – the reversion company gets its payout. In addition, the reversion company will also only pay you a percentage of the current market value for the share of your property it buys. This is because you get to carry on living in the property until you die, and the company may have to wait years for its return. If you sell all of your property to the reversion company, for example, you will typically get between 30% and 50% of its current value. It will rarely be more than 60%. The actual figure will depend on your age (and your partner’s). Older people will get more, and men get more than women.

Interest-only mortgages You borrow a lump sum secured against the value of your home. You pay interest each month, but you have a lump sum to spend as you wish. The capital is eventually repaid out of the sale proceeds.

Home income plans These used to be the most popular type of equity release plans. You take out a mortgage against your home and use the money to buy an annuity which guarantees you an income for life. Mortgage payments are deducted from this monthly income, although the original capital is only repaid from the sale proceeds, normally after you die.

Lifetime mortgages The lender gives you a lump sum or monthly income (or both). You pay nothing – the interest is ‘rolled up’ into the loan. The amount borrowed plus this interest is repaid out of the proceeds from the sale of the property after you die. How much you can borrow depends on the value of your home and your age – the older you are, the higher the percentage of your property’s value you can borrow. Generally, you will not be advanced more than 50% of the value of the property.

Your family

Alternatives You may have other assets or investments which could boost your income or give you the lump sum you need. An IFA will be able to take a holistic view of your finances. Consider, too, whether moving to a less expensive property might be a better way of releasing money tied up in your home – rather than letting an equity release company profit from your bricks-and mortar investment.

Benefits If you receive means-tested state benefits, these could be reduced or lost altogether. Check the rules before you take out an equity release plan.

How to avoid any risk Look for plans carrying the SHIP logo (for Safe Home Income Plans). SHIP is an industry body set up to promote safe equity release schemes. Companies who are members provide a number of guarantees, including: you will have the right to live in your property for life; the freedom to move to an alternative property without penalties; and that you will never owe more than the value of your home. If the scheme’s income comes from an annuity, you’ll get a better rate the older you are. If you are just retired, it may be worth waiting a few years before signing up to an equity release scheme in order to get a better deal. Equally if you are very old or in poor health you should think carefully about schemes paying monthly incomes.

Costs The equity release market is becoming more competitive. But interest rates on mortgagebased schemes, for example, are still noticeably higher than those on ordinary mortgages. Most equity release plans also involve paying valuation and legal fees, although these may be refunded assuming you go ahead. You remain responsible for repairing and insuring your home, and will still have to pay the council tax. Reversion companies in particular will expect you to maintain your home to a reasonable standard to protect their investment.

Can you move or sell up? You may want to sell your house at a later date and move somewhere smaller or more suitable for your needs such as a care home. You should check whether any plan you are considering allows you to transfer it to a new property or whether there is a penalty if you end the scheme before death.

Advice Getting independent financial and legal advice before taking out an equity release plan is highly recommended. For details of local IFAs who can advise you on a wide range of financial services, visit For further information on the subject contained in this article, please contact an IFA. If you are looking for advice on personal finances visit visit

This is an IFA Promotion Ltd article. Head Office, 2nd Floor, 117 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BX. Tel: 020 7833 3131 Fax: 020 7833 3239 Web address: Registered Office: IFA Promotion Ltd, 90 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5UB. Registered in Scotland: No.114606. This article is issued on behalf of Britain’s Independent Financial Advisers and has been approved by a person authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back your original investment. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. Tax benefits may vary as a result of statutory change and their value will depend on individual circumstances. The name IFA Promotion® and the Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) logo® are registered trade-marks of IFA Promotion Limited.


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Your guide to‌

Contents Insurance


Contents insurance also usually covers:

ontents insurance covers damage to the possessions in your home, as opposed to the home itself which comes under buildings insurance. Contents insurance typically covers damage which occurs due to fire, lightning, explosion or earthquake, theft (or attempted theft), riots or vandalism, storms or flooding, subsidence, falling trees, moving objects (such as a cars hitting your home) and escaping or leaking water or oil.

l y our legal liability as occupier of the  house, e.g. if a visitor has an accident and injures themselves l c ost of accommodation and storage if you can’t live in your home because of damage (e.g. fire, flooding etc) l s ome accidental damage to stereo equipment, TVs, computers, DVD players and any glass in furniture (e.g. a glass tabletop) l r eplacement keys and locks, and locksmith’s fees if you lose or damage your keys l d  amage to TV and radio aerials, and satellite dishes l loss of food if a freezer breaks down l theft of cash from your home l c ontents of your outbuildings (although the amount of cover varies a lot from policy to policy and there may be lower limits for theft).


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Insurance Exclusions In some cases, there are limits on how much you can claim. For instance, it’s difficult to claim the full cost of stolen cash or for all your frozen food if your freezer breaks down.

High-value items

Optional extras Accidental damage Standard contents insurance policies include some cover for accidental damage – e.g. to stereo equipment – but don’t cover accidental damage to goods or furnishings. For around £20-£100 extra, you can extend cover to include these items, which can be useful if you have young children. But if your household is less active, accidental damage cover might not be worth paying extra for.

Personal possessions Personal possessions is another possible cover extension area. Sometimes called ‘all risks’ cover, upping your protection in this way guards against loss of your possessions away from home, e.g. a handbag or digital camera. However there are restrictions on what’s covered, so check with the insurer so that you know what you are paying for.

Legal expenses This covers the cost of legal proceedings if you need to bring action or defend a claim. It typically covers the legal expenses incurred in most personal injury, consumer, property and employment disputes, as well as for any award of the other party’s legal costs. A few insurers include this cover as standard when you buy house insurance, but most charge an additional premium for it.

Downloads insurance New technology brings with it new concerns. If someone broke into your home and stole your mobile phone, laptop and iPod, would you be covered on your insurance policy for the cost of replacing your music, films, ringtones or software you’d downloaded? Just under half the insurers we surveyed now include cover for digital downloads as standard. Downloads cover will include music, mobile phone ringtones, television programmes, films, games, software and computer programs when stored on an MP3 player, desktop PC, laptop, mobile phone or home entertainment system. Have a look at our guide to downloads insurance for more information.

There is usually a limit on the amount of cover for high-value items, such as jewellery or audio-visual equipment. If you have possessions of a particularly high value, check that they will be properly covered by any policy you’re considering. Some policies won’t cover any liability arising from your business or trade if you are working from home.

Other common exclusions l L  osses due to theft if you’ve let or sub-let your house, unless there are signs of  forced entry. l D  amage which occurs when the house is unoccupied for more than a certain number of days – such as pipes bursting. l C  ost of replacing an entire set (of furniture or units, for example) if only part of the set is damaged. You’ll usually receive only the cost of replacing the damaged parts. It’s important to read the policy carefully to make sure it provides the cover you need and that you understand your responsibilities (such as locking doors and windows when you leave the property).

Where to shop for Insurance Direct Insurers They are often seen as the best way of getting contents/buildings insurance as you are dealing directly with an insurer. However, the pitfalls are that you are only dealing with one insurer who may be expensive and not able to offer you the right cover for your requirements, additionally some direct insurers will not cover you at all depending upon your personal circumstances.

Price Comparison Websites Generally users of price comparison sites believe that they are the best way forward when shopping for insurance as they do take a lot of the effort of shopping about for a price for you. They compare prices from a panel of insurers who are listed with them, however, they tend to point you in the direction of insurers which they have a more favourable commission with. Furthermore, they only price against the details you have supplied and in many cases the original quote you get often varies greatly as additional options are added, in certain circumstances you will not full cover for personal items and you need to ensure you have the correct value for your contents.

Insurance Brokers When you contact a Broker you will be given impartial advice based on the your individual circumstances. The Broker should ask about your personal circumstances and requirements and find you the best policy to match your needs for both price and level of cover from the insurers they work with. It is widely accepted that a Broker could get you a more suitable price and package to meet your individual circumstances than you might find for yourself when buying insurance direct or from a website – for example: l D  irect insurers policies for the most part are written for a wide market and are not tailored to more unusual circumstances, such as multiple properties, unusual construction or location, high value and fine art items etc. l F  or the most part web sites do not offer help where you are unsure of the value of your belongings or property or you believe your circumstances may be unusual. l A  dditionally, Insurance Brokers are all regulated by the Financial Services Authority, this means that they have to conform to a strict standards and practices.

London Neighbourhood Watch Association have teamed up with Brokers Adelaide Insurance who have worked for many years on behalf of the likes of Members of the Women’s Institute and The Institute of Advanced Motorists to ensure that they have the best insurance cover at the most competitive price in the market.

For further details of how they can help you, please contact them direct on 028 9044 2200, or visit their website

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t’s a legal requirement for you to have car insurance. You have to cover against liability for injury to other people and damage to their property resulting from the use of a vehicle on the road – if you drive without insurance, you are committing an offence. You also won’t be covered in case of theft or damage to your car, so it’s important to make sure you get the right cover!

Your guide to…

Car Insurance In the market, there are currently three types of cover offered:

Your car – each car model is given a rating, and older cars usually attract a discount.

There are plenty of insurance companies offering car insurance policies.

1. T  hird Party only – covering legal liability for injuries to other people, including passengers and damage to other people’s property. 2. Third Party, Fire and Theft – as above, plus fire or theft to your car, subject to certain conditions and - usually - an ‘excess’ which you have to pay in case of theft. 3. Comprehensive – all the above, plus accidental damage to your car (normally subject to an ‘excess’), a personal accident benefit for yourself and sometimes a spouse or family member, medical expenses and loss or damage to personal effects in the car (both up to a set limit).

Driving other cars – most policies cover the policyholder for driving a car belonging to someone else with their permission, but on a ‘third party’ basis. Accidental damage or theft of the borrowed car is not covered.

l I f not serious and no injuries, exchange personal/insurance details with the other party and inform your insurer.

Many drivers will already be aware of the terms of their policies, however, here are some basic explanations, useful when choosing the appropriate policy for your needs. Premium – this is based on who will drive the vehicle, the type of car, where it is kept, what it is used for, what level of cover you choose and your driving record. Drivers – your policy can cover you, you and your spouse, you and named drivers or, infrequently nowadays, you and any other drivers.


No claims discount – policyholders with a claim free record normally qualify for a no claims discount, usually ranging from 30% for one year to 60% or more for four or five years. You can usually protect this discount by paying an additional premium. This allows a set number of claims before your no claims discount is reduced.

When you’re buying a car… Take a look at which insurance group the exact model is in, because this will affect the premium. You can find details in motoring magazines or by contacting your insurer. When choosing an insurance policy, always carefully review the benefits. Always give full and accurate details. If you are unsure if something is relevant always tell your insurer – it will give you peace of mind.

If you have an accident

l I f a person is injured call the Police and if necessary the emergency services. Exchange full details and inform your insurer. l I n all cases, always try to record or note exact details of the accident at the scene,  if you have a camera all the better. If you have a SatNav record any data to record location of an accident. Don’t forget to appeal for witnesses. Remember, it is an offence not to exchange personal / insurance details at an accident.

What should you do if your car is stolen? l T  ell the police immediately and then contact your insurer. Mention any other property that has been taken with the car. l B  e prepared to wait a while in case of recovery – many cars are found abandoned within a few hours or days.

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Home Car security We all know car thieves are out there, so be sensible and don’t give them an easy opportunity! 1. L  ock all windows, doors, sunroofs and the boot every time you leave the car. 2. D  on’t leave valuables or clothing on display. Even an old coat can attract a ‘chancer’ thief. 40% of break-ins involve the theft of a mobile phone. Importantly don’t leave radio cassettes, MP3s or even driving documents or personal correspondance lying around; a thief could use this information for a cover story if stopped by police or when selling your car. 3. T  ake the ignition key out even when parked in your own garage or drive, and if you have one, set the immobiliser – do all this even when you’re popping quickly into a petrol station or shop – failure to do so may invalidate your claim. 4. E  nsure that your doors are fitted with deadlocks or electronic locks. Keep doors locked when you are in the car. 5. O  pt for a central locking system and a lockable fuel cap. 6. H  ave your Vehicle Identification Number etched into all glass surfaces, and think about security ‘dotting’ your vehicle. 7. I nvest in a few security products – an approved steering lock, wheel locks, locking posts for your house drives… and always use them! More than 50% of car thefts happen at home.

8. F  it a Thatcham approved car alarm and immobiliser. ‘Thatcham’ can provide you with a list of suppliers who will then advise you on the most appropriate security product for your car. Call them on  0870 550 2006. 9. C  onsider fitting a vehicle tracking device, you often get an insurance discount and they have a high success rate for recovery.

Parking your car When away from home always try to park your car in a well-lit, open location. Thieves target car parks. A fifth of all recorded car crime happens in car parks. When parking in a public car park try to find one that is well supervised, with restricted entry and exit points, good lighting and security cameras. Avoid dark corners. Look for “secured car parks”. The Secured Car Park Award Scheme is a national initiative of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ in partnership with the British Parking Association and Home Office, supported by the Association of British Insurers. The Award is to certify that the operators of the car parks have introduced effective measures to create a safe and secure environment to reduce public fears and restricts opportunities for crime to be committed.

If you breakdown If you are single with children or alone before leaving the car, check your location, review your resources and decide on a plan of action. Remember staying safe is the priority and the

best course of action will depend on the location, time of day and – most importantly – your instincts. Consider the following points: l I f you have a mobile phone and are stationary, contact either the police or a reputable recovery company. Many insurers include roadside assistance as part of their car insurance policy. l I n isolated spots you could stay in your locked car overnight. l I f you’re a long way from a telephone or house, you could flag down a passerby then get back in the locked car and talk through a partly opened window. Ask the motorist to call for help at the next available telephone, and provide the following details in writing: • y our name, car make and model,  and registration •b  reakdown recovery membership numbers • your exact location l W  ait in a secure place – the locked car, a nearby shop or similarly populated area. Tell the person you have called for help where you will be waiting. l I f you seek assistance at a nearby house, knock and stand back from the door. Ask the occupant to call for help on your behalf. A slip of paper with your details (name, car make and model, registration, breakdown recovery membership number) and your location would be helpful.

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Neighbourhood Watch

Useful Contacts Neighbourhood Watch and Homewatch schemes are a great way for residents to get together with the aim of reducing crime and making their communities safer and happier places to live. Everyone can join in, even if they only have a few hours to spare each month, and the scheme can be tailored to the size, location and nature of the area covered. The local police will always give help and advice about setting such a scheme up, and they’ll instruct you on the basics: sharing crime prevention advice with your neighbours, keeping an eye on each other’s properties and communicating effectively with the police. If there’s a specific local problem – for instance, vandalism or car theft – the watch scheme can focus on that: in many communities, members also get involved in wider concerns like visiting elderly and vulnerable people on a pre-arranged schedule, to provide them with reassurance. Statistics from schemes all over the UK show that they can have a considerable impact on crime figures and the fear of crime, and that they improve community spirit. If there’s a scheme already operating in your neighbourhood, why not join it – and if there isn’t, your local police will be more than happy to help you and your neighbours start one up. For further details of Neighbourhood Watch, Home Watch or Street Watch contact: LNWA St. Martin’s House 16 St. Martin’s le Grand London EC1A 4EN or visit


Below is just a sample of the organisations you can contact for further information on Security and Safety matters: l T  he Metropolitan Police Crime Reduction Unit: l S  afer Neighbourhoods saferneighbourhoods Tel: 0300 123 1212 l L ocal Authority Contacts Local Government Association (LGA) l L ondon Fire Brigade l T  he Home Office Communications Directorate (for leaflets and publications on most aspects of crime reduction) l A  ge UK l A  ssociation of British Insurers Tel: 0207 600 3333 l C  rime Stoppers Trust Freephone 0800 555 117 l F  inancial Services Authority (FSA) (regulating the Financial Services Industry advice on financial and insurance matters) l M  aster Locksmiths Association

l A  larm Inspectorates / Advisory Bodies:  National Security Inspectorate (NSI)  Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board l S  old Secure (products marked ‘Sold Secure’ give you peace of mind that they have been rigourously tested) l A  lso… (advice on crime reduction products and services) l V  ictim Support National Office, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6DZ. Other useful web addresses: l l w (official Neighbourhood and Home Watch UK website) l w National Home Improvement Council (for advice and assistance) l w (medical advice and assistance even for emergencies) l w (information about online safety) l w (internet security advice for parents)

Always refer to a local telephone directory for the contact number for your appropriate Police Force Crime Prevention Officer, Safer Neighbourhood Team or Local Fire Prevention Officer, or refer to websites on this page.

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London Neighbourhood Watch Association Magazine, for home security, and safety advice