Who benefited from the scheme?
In 2010/11 the Safer Selly Oak Partnership with the support of Bournbrook Community Safety Project and landlords introduced a scheme to prevent and reduce laptop thefts from houses in Selly Oak. In total 105 homes across the area were able to benefit from the project, potentially protecting up to 500 students from having valuables, such as laptops, cameras, cash, mp3 players and consoles stolen from their homes.
Effects on crime and reassurance
This has been the first scheme of its kind in the country and feedback from landlords suggests that to date the scheme has been a success. From follow up visits to and and contact with student tenants, feedback is that they are using their safes and feeling greatly reassured for having them.
Why the scheme was introduced
This scheme is important, because in the three years before the decision was made to introduce it nearly £309,000 of laptops were stolen from the Bournbrook area. Though this figure has reduced since 2010/11, laptops are still taken in over a quarter of all burglaries, with other items such as cameras and games consoles also frequently taken. Laptops are a huge attraction to burglars, and the effects on students having their course-work, personal photos and other personal information can be very upsetting.
Whilst laptop tracking software has been and continues to be rolled out to students across the University of Birmingham and acts as a very useful deterrent and means of catching burglars there had been a gap around preventing laptops from being stolen at all. Secure laptop cables have been used elsewhere, with some success, but the Safes also cater for games consoles, cameras and mp3 players, as well as personal documents.
What is currently happening with the scheme
There are currently no plans to add to the existing stock of Safes in Selly Oak. This is due to the current financial climate, but also more importantly because the scheme needs to be properly evaluated before it can be considered to have been a success and be worthy of rolling out further.
The local focus is now on maximising the use and impact of the safes. This has been done through the provision of signage and stickers to deter offenders. More important though has been the visitst to and engagement with students to ensure that they are using them. This will be crucial to the scheme working in the short-term and the long-term.
How can landlords and letting agents get involved?
- If you have had Safes fitted in the houses you own or manage, please remind students to use them – manuals were provided with the Safes, so please refer to them if there are any particular issues with use
- Ensure that any new tenants you might have know how reset existing codes and put in their own – it is absolutely crucial that keys are retained
For further information, please contact Austin Rodriguez, Safer Places Officer for Birmingham South, 07557287605, firstname.lastname@example.org