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When the clocks go back, prevent increased crime and the risk of trespassers

26 October 2017

Crimes and safety risks increase with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions.

This year, the end of daylight saving takes place when clocks go back an hour at 2am on Sunday 29th October.

Vacant properties in particular, alongside warehouses, heritage sites, or remote sites such as utility power stations, become far more vulnerable targets for squatters, vandals, illegal raves, arsonists and thieves.

More attempted thefts occur during the darker late afternoons, early evening times following the clock changes.

There's safety concern too: few statistics specifically record accidents in the UK after the autumn clock change, but road casualties recorded by RoSPA and telematics companies are a guide to the potential risks that even illegal trespassers may face.

Every autumn when the clocks go back and sunset occurs earlier in the day, road casualties rise, by as much as 30% between the hours of 5pm and 8pm, and overall 10% in the month after the daylight saving change.

In addition, if an intruder is injured from an accident whilst on a site, the owner of the site can still be found to be negligent, even though the trespasser is an unauthorised visitor.

VPS are highlighting their Stop Crime in Time Campaign with these 5 simple steps that can help owners of vacant or remote properties reduce the risks:

1) Prepare and aware Raise awareness - warn property and facilities managers of the risks of the clocks going back from the increase in attempted crimes at the earlier dusk, and from the safety risks for empty sites.

2) Check lighting and automatic timers If you have a vacant or remote property that is lit at night, check to see if it is sufficient for the shorter days, and that any timers are adjusted properly to take account of the earlier dusk.

3) Stay ahead with Improved Safety and Security If you haven't already, consider installing CCTV or less expensive video-verified camera systems - these can work without external power, and can ‘see' throughout the night, protecting a property from intruders and unauthorised trespassers.

4) Check your property's perimeter - inspect all doors, windows, fencing and access points thoroughly, and check them regularly. Rectify any detected weaknesses or tampered areas immediately.

5) Property Guardians programmes: for particularly vulnerable properties, or buildings which could lend themselves to such an option, consider whether your vacant property could be better secured and protected by property guardians.

These are people prepared to live in the property, as licensees not tenants, on a temporary basis.

They can leave or be asked to leave with 28 days' notice, and in return they pay a fee much lower than private rental accommodation.

The property owner gains security plus an income, whilst the licensees benefit from low cost accommodation.

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