Denis Murphy is sergeant for Ashbourne Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
IT is extremely difficult (not to say impossible) to measure or calculate how effective crime prevention actually is.
If a burglar or car criminal has been thwarted in the commission of an offence – through crime prevention devices, policies or by being disturbed – then frequently an attempt to commit the substantive crime will be recorded (an attempt to commit a crime such as a burglary or stealing from a car is a crime in its own right, provided there is evidence to substantiate an allegation).
The difficulty in trying to measure "prevention" comes when such a crime may have been contemplated or even planned but, when it comes time to execute it, the offender is dissuaded or the opportunity is denied.
This can happen in various ways: by "designing out crime", by physical barriers or features to resist attempts at entry or theft being present, by installing alarms, use of Smartwater and other property marking.
One of the best ways to reduce crime and the fear of crime is through effective and well-organised Neighbourhood Watches. I believe that one of the reasons that Ashbourne continues to be a safe town is due in no small measure to the network of excellent watches that exist in the area and surrounding villages.
I thank them for their work and pay tribute to them for all those offences that we will never know about because their watches prevented them. There is nothing new about the schemes but any perception that may linger about them from 1980s sitcoms should be banished.
Ashbourne and district has a very well-established and effective network but further opportunities exist to reinforce it in certain areas, especially Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators. The role of the co-ordinator is critical since it involves being a key point of contact with other households in the area, with the police and with other stakeholders.
Co-ordinators can assist and reassure those who might be anxious about whether anything amounts to a "suspicious incident" and they are also in the vanguard of delivering the local police's crime and anti-social behaviour strategy.
A better-informed, more alert community is much less likely to become a crime hotspot.
If you are interested in finding out more, e-mail john.bointon.1288 @derbyshire.pnn.police.uk.