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CRIME PREVENTION CORNER

Summer 2014 Newsletter

As per usual, our intrepid contributor, Alan Jackson, Convenor of The Society's Public Order Working Group, passes on some useful tips about crime in and around the town.

Burglary Patrol

He reports that the response of the police to the increasing number of burglaries in Harpenden has been to put a number of police ‘units’ on burglary patrols and that successful detections and deterrence have resulted from this initiative. The police want all citizens to supplement their efforts by alerting them on 101 if we see people taking a suspicious interest in properties or by calling 999 if people are seen actually trying to gain entry. We are also advised to double lock doors and to leave a room light on - not a hallway light – possibly on a timer.

Scam Watch

Scams involving individuals assuming false identities continue to be a problem. Police attended a suspicious incident in Sun Lane on 5 February 2014 when an elderly lady was approached by somebody claiming to represent Trading Standards: the individual concerned could produce no ID.

Our 'Public Order' items have repeatedly highlighted the need to be alert to phone scams whereby fraudsters claim to be police officers investigating fraudulent activity on people’s bank accounts. They aim to get the victim to divulge their PIN and to hand over their bank cards. Two arrests were made in the District on 6 March: the suspects were 16-year old boys from London. Remember: neither police officers nor bank staff would ever ask for personal bank account details, PIN numbers or bank cards nor would they ask you to withdraw money. It is particularly important to get this information over to older people as they appear to be the main victims of this kind of crime. Phone 101 if you're ever suspicious.

(Sociological note: one of the reasons why older people are targeted is not because all old people are vulnerable – many are very spry – but because the criminal classes, like many of us, believe the propaganda of 'ageism' and think older folk are automatically ga ga).

Sound the Hooter; a Cause for Celebration

Auto Express has examined the DVLA’s driving ban figures for 2012 and has shown that Harpenden has the best behaved drivers in the UK. Alan Jackson says 'for those of us who observe the behaviour of drivers in the town centre day after day, that fact may seem a little astonishing: but perhaps those inconsiderate drivers we occasionally see don’t actually live here.' The fact is that in 2012 only 19 of Harpenden’s 23,347 motorists (0.08%) picked up a driving ban (the overall figure for London was 0.37%).

'Although such figures may at first be thought of as nothing much more than a statistical aberration,' says Alan, 'that’s emphatically not the case. It’s a record the town can be justifiably proud of. It surely helps to make the town a better place in which to live.'

REWARDING AWARDS

A traditional and welcome part of our annual general meeting is the announcement of the Harpenden Society Awards for the year 2013. Long-serving Society Committee member Penny Ayres, who chairs the Awards Committee with discreet aplomb, explained to the audience that the aim of these awards is to recognise developments which have enhanced the local area of Harpenden and which are of architectural merit or of historic or other public interest or which contribute visually or socially to the locality.

For 2013 there had been, she continued, seven nominations, all very interesting in their own ways. After earnest deliberation, the Awards Committee had decided to make three awards.

Firstly, a Letter of Commendation: this went to Red Gables, a house which is part of the Rothamsted estate and which is visible from West Common. It has recently been renovated inside and outside with smart new paint and newly repainted gates. The house was built in 1907 and was built by and was the home and studio of Frank Salisbury, Harpenden's famous portrait painter and stained glass designer. There is a stained glass window of his design (although the original was stolen) just visible from the road.

Secondly, a Certificate of Merit: this was awarded to St Hilda's School in Douglas Road for their new extension which has been designed and built to blend in with the original structure and is in keeping with the surrounding properties.

Lastly, the prestigious award of the The Harpenden Society Plaque: this was given to The Harpenden Common Golf Club for their new clubhouse on East Common. It was designed by the local architects rdt. It is constructed of black boarding and the judges think its barn-like appearance Hits in well with the rural surroundings.

Penny Ayres went on to explain that The Society's Chairman would present these Awards to the recipients at a later date. She concluded by thanking her Committee colleagues, John Davis, Mike Waddilove and Anthony Steel for their wise input and for their help in making these difWicult decisions. Penny Ayres also thanked all the members of The Harpenden Society and general public for their suggestions and nominations.

Above top: Harpenden Common Golf Club’s new clubhouse

Above middle: The extension at St. Hilda’s School

Above: Red Gables