HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc98-9W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much he spent last year on public awareness campaigns about distraction burglaries. [73922]

Mr. Denham

[holding answer 15 October 2002]: £664,000 was spent in 2001–02 by the Home Office Distraction Burglary Taskforce on activities to raise awareness of distraction burglary. The activities included producing publicity and educational materials such as a Good Practice Toolkit, videos for use with members of the public and for practitioners, a leaflet for householders, newsletters and other promotional materials and equipment.

In addition, between November 2001 and March 2002 the Task Force held a series of 11 regional seminars on distraction burglary, which received substantial press coverage.

We have also provided funding for projects targeting distraction burglary in Sheffield (£288,000 by March 2002) and Leeds (£554,000 by March 2003), which involved substantial elements of publicity and education of vulnerable groups.

Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many distraction burglaries took place last year; and what steps he is taking to inform elderly, disabled and infirm people about bogus house-callers. [73924]

Mr. Denham

[holding answer 15 October 2002]: There is no separate recordable offence category of distraction burglary. However, the figures we have received from police forces indicate that some 19,500 offences were recorded as distraction burglaries in 2001–02.

We set up the Distraction Burglary Taskforce in 2000 with £1 million funding to tackle the problem. Its membership is drawn from a wide range of organisations involved in different ways with older adults and other vulnerable groups, including the police, utility companies, local authorities and voluntary bodies.

Amongst other things, the Taskforce has produced a Good Practice Toolkit, which is available on the Crime Reduction Website (www.crimereduction.gov.uk/ burglary48.htm), and is being distributed to key practitioners. It has also produced two videos and a leaflet on distraction burglary, together with posters and door stickers. The Taskforce held a series of regional seminars on distraction burglary between October 2001 and March 2002. These were attended by representatives of a wide range of organisations with an interest in the needs of older adults.

We have also funded a two-year programme to provide home security upgrades such as better door locks, window locks, door chains and spy-holes for low income pensioners in areas with burglary rates above the national average. Over 55,000 homes have received upgrades together with advice on home security. The scheme has been run in conjunction with the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA's) Warm Front scheme, which provides heating and insulation improvements.