'Why I’m taking my security into my own hands’: Brits buy guard dogs and doorbell cameras as crime concerns soar

18 May 2024, 07:56 | Updated: 18 May 2024, 10:01

Vera and Dan
Vera and Dan. Picture: Alamy/LBC
Fraser Knight

By Fraser Knight

A growing number of Brits are installing doorbell cameras and buying guard dogs to help ease their concerns around crime rates.

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LBC has seen figures which show a quarter of people in the country have installed cameras on the front of their home in the past year alone - an increase of 5% since last April.

Almost one in six parents of children under 18 have bought a dog with the express intention of alleviating crime fears over the course of the year.

And around one in 12 also say they’ve joined their local neighbourhood watch scheme.

In Woolwich, southeast London, Vera spoke to LBC about the steps she felt she had to take after a neighbour was burgled last year.

“It totally freaked me out, our street is quite narrow and I’ve always felt quite secure but that last break in, they went through the porch - the front door - and I thought that’s quite worrying so I had an alarm fitted.

“I work shifts, my son’s girlfriend who’s at home, she’s there Monday to Friday and my son works shifts so a lot of the time she’s on her own into the early hours of the morning so it gives her a bit more security as well.

“It panicked me and there was another time where someone was trying to put their hand through a cat flap while people were at home and we have people trying car door handles quite a lot. The alarm was just to give a bit more peace of mind.”

Vera, from Southeast London, who installed an alarm after a neighbour was burgled
Vera, from Southeast London, who installed an alarm after a neighbour was burgled. Picture: Supplied

Vera spoke to us on Red Lion Lane, where she’s joined the street’s neighbourhood watch.

Her neighbours Colette and Dan also told us they feel like the police have been dealt a poor hand, with cuts meaning they can’t respond to everything that happens.

“There aren’t enough police - there’s been a drastic cut. To report a crime you’re told to go online now and, to be honest, you don’t know if there’s an officer nearby,” Colette said.

“There used to be two police stations in Eltham and now I don’t think there are any.”

Dan, who runs the street’s neighbourhood watch, told LBC: “It’s really important we have communities like our neighbourhood watch so that we can all talk about what we see and encourage people to report it.

“I think the police always need communities to be engaged with them and to be talking to them.

“But, yes, I wish there wasn’t the turnover in policing that there is. It’s really tricky out there and it’s not ideal.”

Dan, from the Red Lion Lane neighbourhood watch scheme, in Woolwich
Dan, from the Red Lion Lane neighbourhood watch scheme, in Woolwich. Picture: Supplied

As we walked down the road, a number of houses were pointed out where doorbell cameras had been installed, including next to a house that we’re told has been plagued by fraudulent and rogue traders taking advantage of an elderly woman.

The research by the Liberal Democrats also highlights a rise in people who have installed stronger door locks and changed their route to work because of their concerns over crime.

Londoners were found to be the most likely to have taken increased security measure

The Lib Dem leader is among a number of senior figures who’ve called for a return to full neighbourhood policing, to help protect communities.

Ed Davey told LBC: “It’s a very sorry state of affairs when people’s fear of crime is getting so high because they feel the Conservatives in particular have not supported community officers and there’s been a big reduction in them.

“It’s their daily experience, they feel less safe and they see crimes like antisocial behaviour and burglary on the rise and the police unable to attend because they don’t have enough officers, so they’re having to take it into their own hands.

“We need more police, they do a great job but they need more resources. We’re not going to crack down on criminals and stop this crime unless they get more.”