Since the mid-1990s, the CSEW has asked about household use of home security devices.
Respondents were asked if they had certain security measures fitted to their home, which has included, for example; burglar alarms, double or deadlocks on some or all outside doors, security chains or bars on doors, locks that need keys to open them on some or all windows, indoor or outdoor lights on a timer or sensor.
The proportion of households using these devices has increased over the same period that burglary incidents have decreased, perhaps supporting the theory that wider use of more and better home security has in part contributed to this drop (Tilley et al., 2011).
Over the period since 1995, when there was a large reduction in the volume of burglaries, the proportion of households with window locks increased by 20 percentage points (from 68% to 88% of households); double/deadlocks increased by 13 percentage points (from 70% to 83% of households); light timers/sensors increased by 16 percentage points (from 39% to 55% of households), and; burglar alarms increased by 11 percentage points (from 20% to 31% of households).
Although it is likely that improvements in the quality and effectiveness of security devices on the market over this period will have had an impact on rates of victimisation, many households would already have had window locks, double locks and sensors prior to 1995 and it is likely that other factors also contributed to the dramatic fall in burglary during the latter half of the 1990s. See Trends in Crime – A Short Story 2011/12 for further context about long-term crime trends. Additionally, the relationship between home security devices and burglary victimisation is complex and it is likely that the take up of multiple security measures is more important than individual items and this is explored below.
As in previous years, according to the 2012/13 CSEW the most common home security devices at the time of interview were window locks or double locks or deadlocks on outside doors (see Figure 3.2 and Nature of Crime Tables).
Type of security measures at time of interview, 2012/13 CSEW
Eighty-eight per cent of households in England and Wales had locks on their windows and 83% had double locks or deadlocks on at least some of their outside doors. A combination of certain security measures generally has a greater impact than having individual measures in isolation (Tilley et al., 2011). For example, a front door that is impenetrable is not effective on its own if the windows at the back of the house can easily be broken into. For the purposes of analysis, households have therefore been classified into the following mutually exclusive sub-categories based on the home security devices they had in place: ‘Enhanced security’: Households with window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors (the two most common security measures) as well as at least one additional security measure; ‘Basic security only’: Households with window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors (the two most common security measures) only; ‘Less than basic security’: Households without both window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors but with some other security devices. ‘No security’: Households with none of the security measures asked about. The majority of households were found to have more than one of the home security measures asked about1.
As shown in Figure 3.3, three-quarters (75%) of households had at least ‘basic security’, including 61 per cent of households that had ‘enhanced security’ (see above for definitions of different security levels). Table 3.1, which is presented later in this section, gives an indication of the proportions of households with each individual security measure that also have further security measures in place.
Just under one-quarter (22%) of households had some ‘less than basic security’ and a small minority (2%) of households had none of the security measures asked about.