News from the KRA – Security options for Kingswood

As you will be aware, there has been no let-up in the recent spate of burglaries in Kingswood. We have already published information on the basic measures which police advise should be taken for individuals in relation to protecting their own properties. In this note we focus on communal measures that groups of residents might wish to consider taking.

Some of the most concerning crimes have happened in and around the Kingswood Warren and residents there have been actively discussing various communal security measures. Security specialists have also commented on what might be done in this regard. Since these measures might be relevant in other parts of Kingswood, we list them below.

The KRA is not equipped to advise on the merits or otherwise of these measures, but is simply circulating a summary of what has been discussed. Most of these measures would involve cost sharing, but we would very much welcome feedback from residents on the merit of each and whether they would consider in principle contributing towards the cost. If particular measures were widely supported, this would hopefully give guidance which might be worth pursuing.

1. Gates to private roads. As there are so few roads into the Warren estate, some people feel strongly that installing gates at the entrances at least in this area of the village would be a worthwhile security measure. Others say that because the area is surrounded by open land and criss-crossed with public byways, any gates would easily be bypassed by criminals. There could be legal issues about closing these roads to the public and there would certainly be practical issues with their day to day control and management, given the number of delivery vehicles, construction vehicles and in the case of Sandy Lane visitors to the golf club. The introduction of gates is a measure which would clearly not be available to the village as a whole, but in a few suitable roads outside the Kingswood Warren estate, residents might also consider it worth examination.

2. CCTV/ANPR. CCTV cameras could be installed in key positions, possibly including an automatic number plate recognition capability. Such a system could if desired display the registration number of each vehicle entering the road demonstrating that the system was logging this information. It is argued that this would discourage criminals, but some say that if the cameras would be deliberately obvious; as with gates, criminals would simply find easy ways to bypass them. Some residents are also concerned that this would be an invasion of their privacy. It is also argued that cameras do little to prevent crime, though they might of course record evidence which could help investigation afterwards.

3. Mobile patrols. A private security company could be retained to make frequent patrols in vehicles or on foot with dogs, looking for any suspicious activity and displaying a security presence. Since there are no practical or legal difficulties involved, this measure could be implemented very quickly and could cover any areas where enough residents were willing to contribute. Some patrol services also offer a fast response service if a resident needs immediate assistance.

4. WhatsApp Messenger. This is a free group messaging app and is already in use in at least two areas of Kingswood. It offers an immediate reporting facility if anything is noticed which looks suspicious so that all group members in the vicinity are made aware immediately. Family members can also be added to the group if desired. It is easy to set up and no cost is involved. It is limited to residents with smartphones only and it does risk some false alarms if apparently suspicious behaviour turns out to be innocent, but the police say that they have no problem with this and are always willing to respond.

5. Checking vehicles. Many vehicles visit the area every day, but if a vehicle is seen circulating or parked under suspicious circumstances, apart from reporting it to the police, a resident can check its ownership themselves via Costains who hold a licence to obtain vehicle registration information from the DVLA and will use this on request to check on a vehicle. Since the request must go through Costains, contact is only available during office hours so it may take some time to obtain a response.

6. Tagging contractors’ vehicles. One security consultant has suggested that in order to narrow down those vehicles which may be suspicious, contractors’ vehicles attending sites where building works are being undertaken could be issued with a coloured paper sticker to display on their windscreen. If residents undertaking building works were willing to cooperate in such a scheme and the colour of the sticker was changed regularly, this would at least show which vehicles were in the area at the invitation of a resident. This would involve a certain amount of organisation but little cost and might make policing the area easier.

7. Neighbourhood Watch. Some areas of the village have neighbour watch schemes in place but most seem inactive. Both the police and security advisers are of the view that neighbourhood watch is worthwhile. Again this involves some organisational effort but no cost.

We really need your feedback on these measures, so if you would care to email your response to kravillage@gmail.com that would be most helpful.

Please include your name and road details and also please complete responses for all seven proposed measures.

Please use the relevant numbers and letters to indicate your choice, for example if you definitely support mobile patrols, answer 3A.

Measure

1. Gates to private roads
2. CCTV/ANPR
3. Mobile patrols
4. WhatsApp Messenger
5. Checking vehicles
6. Tagging contractors’ vehicles
7. Neighbourhood Watch

Key
(A) Definitely support in principle subject to cost
(B) Some reservations but might support subject to cost
(C) Not convinced on cost or practical grounds
(D) Ineffective or would have a negative effect on the area

Des Camblin
Chairman
Kingswood Residents Association

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