Let’s look at some of the security devices that The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme provide and install.
After my two days with The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme I would say the most popular and reassuring devices would be the door chain, window alarm, door chime/alarm and personal attack alarm. The door chain allowed the elderly person to open their door partially whilst it remained chained to the wall to make it more difficult for someone to push their way in and to provide a barrier. This gives the elderly person time to see who their visitor is, check any relevant identification and call for assistance if needed. It may seem a simple piece of kit and although it provides no real extra security against the door being forced open, in each and every case I saw it being used, it made the world of difference to the elderly person’s confidence in opening their door and to the security they felt in their own homes. The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme is able to provide different types of door chains, including those which can be released by a key from outside the property to stop carers and family from being hindered in an emergency.
The window alarm is another simple but very effective device. It is a small white plastic box, a bit smaller than a cigarette packet, which sticks directly to the window. It will then sound an alarm if anyone tries to break the window or jemmy it open. The clever thing about it is you can knock on, open or clean the window and the alarm wont sound, however as soon as you lightly tap it with something like a screwdriver or something metallic it senses the different type of vibration and sounds the alarm. Jeff was sure to demonstrate this fact in each home we visited to ensure that the elderly person was not going to put off by the device thinking that it would go off all the time. These clever little devices also provide a visual deterrent as on the back, which is stuck to the window, it displays a sigh to anyone outside warning that an electronic security system is in place within the premises.
The door chime/alarm is again a simple white plastic device, smaller than the window alarm, which could best be described, as Jeff would put it to each person having one installed, as “Like the chime you get when you go into your local shop”. This is exactly what it is and once fitted, every time the door is opened it emits an audible friendly warning. This lets the occupier know that somebody has entered the house and allows them to take action. The device also has an alarm setting which can be used at night which causes the device to emit a louder, more constant sound similar to a burglar alarm. This can be particularly useful where an elderly person may often forget to lock doors and not only alerts them to someone entering, but should also hopefully be enough to scare off any would be intruders.
At the end of each visit when Jeff sits down with the occupier to complete the very small amount of paperwork and give further advice, he provides them with a small personal attack alarm. This alarm has two buttons, one which makes the device a torch and another which when pressed causes the device to emit a very loud and aggressive alarm. The device is small enough to fit into a hand bag and has a strap at each end. It is designed for you to attach one strap to a purse and the other to a handbag or yourself, then if the purse is removed too far the strap is pulled out, setting off the alarm. Several of the elderly victims I visited also planned to keep the personal attack alarm attached to the bed at night.
Other common devices are spy holes for doors to enable occupants to look outside without being seen or having to open the door and sliding locks and clasps with padlocks for garden gates and garage doors. When visiting a victim of domestic violence the security advisors are able to change locks and block off letter boxes and install external letter boxes to prevent arson attacks. The security advisors can also provide and fit more expensive systems such as external key safes and wireless, weatherproof oil tank alarms at a price of fifty pounds and one hundred and 120 pounds respectively.
Perhaps the most invaluable thing the security advisors can provide is safety and security advice and reassurance. Importantly they are careful to make suggestions that are simple and relatively inexpensive. This includes placing trellis along the top of fences and gates, perhaps in conjunction with some spikey plants, to make it difficult for climbing the fence. Security lights are cheap, simple and effective, particularly now more and more street lighting is being turned off. Timers are a good way of making it look like someone is at home when used with living room and bedroom lights and radios. It was advised not to leave a hall way light on its own as this is a give away as it is unnatural. Also available are small cubes that plug into the mains and emit flashing and glowing light giving the appearance of a TV from the outside. House alarm and CCTV systems are available as cheaply as two hundred and fifty pounds, including alarm systems that do not require wiring in and are capable of phoning five selected numbers when the alarm is activated. Alternatively dummy CCTV and alarm boxes can be purchased to give the appearance of more advanced security. Other advice included not keeping keys near to doors and windows as they can be fished out or provide a visual reason to break in. It is also advised to keep your car in the garage if you have one as if it is always on the drive when you are in it is a good advert of when you are at home and when you are not.
After my short time with The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme, I truly believe that it is an invaluable resource as every visit I went on had a hugely positive impact on the victim or non victim