Smith aims to thwart rise in burglaries

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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary insisted today that burglary does not have to rise in a recession as she prepared to host a summit to address the issue.

Jacqui Smith said she was determined that people should receive the best possible advice on how to protect their homes.

"I don't think there is anything inevitable about saying because we have a recession burglary needs to rise," she told BBC Breakfast.

"In order to make sure that doesn't happen we are taking action.

"Today we are bringing together the people who know how to stop burglary."

Her remarks were made ahead of a summit in central London, bringing together police, retailers, insurers and charities for elderly people.

The meeting comes in the wake of the news that break-ins at homes were up 4% in the last set of crime figures, prompting fears of a "credit crunch crimewave".

Ms Smith will also launch a £1.6 million crime prevention campaign and a new internet-based test for people to check their home security.

The three-minute test will rate your home on the basis of the information you provide and suggest new ways to make your home safer.

The Home Secretary has pledged to stay on the "front foot" in tackling crime, and said burglary has fallen 55% since 1997.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms Smith said there were 890,000 fewer burglaries now than in 1997.

"It is the case that I am concerned that if you take the last recession, 1991/1993, the rate of burglary was twice what it is now. My argument is that has been the historic situation," she said.

"I don't think there is anything inevitable about that happening this time."

Figures for July to September last year showed there were 69,000 break-ins at homes in England and Wales, the first rise in seven years. Burglaries of commercial premises were also up.

Last year Ms Smith warned Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a leaked memo of a likely increase in "acquisitive" crimes including burglary as a result of the economic downturn.