Burglary, the Police, and ‘Smart Doorbells…

The Badger’s been burgled! The Police were great. They attended swiftly, established the culprit wore gloves, and went door to door to see if neighbours had seen anything suspicious. They hadn’t, so the attending Pc rightly set expectations that little could done without tangible leads. The Badger is thus one of the UK’s 2019 burglary statistics! For info, there were ~423,000 UK burglaries in 2018, much lower than 10 years ago, but the clear up rate is low.

The attending Pc was very professional and sported personal technology that included a body camera, a radio, and a rugged smartphone that was used to collect details and statements in the comfort of the Badger’s lounge. Potential security improvements were discussed, and the Badger asked if ‘smart doorbells’ – tech that alerts your smartphone – would help. Apparently, simpler, cheaper, and more traditional items probably provide better deterrence. Why? First, because most burglaries are opportunistic, not targeted. Second, because burglars are as tech savvy as the rest of us and can take measures to protect themselves. And third, alerts on your smartphone to ‘stranger-danger’ may increase your anxiety because the burglar is not actually prevented from entering if you’re not at home. Having images is useful provided they lead to improved culprit capture and prosecution, but the jury’s out on that front. The Badger jokingly said that he’d deploy some old-fashioned tech – bone-crunching animal traps. The Pc’s response was clear. Advice was expressed in a way that it was not to be argued with!

The Police were great throughout. The Badger felt well handled, a marked contrast to recent interactions with some major businesses. The Pc’s tech supported all aspects of the incident process smoothly and the Badger sees why the Police need even more tech and systems to catch ‘bad people’ and deal well with victims. Currently there’s a fuss about police trialling of Automated Facial Recognition (AFR), and the likes of Liberty and Big Brother Watch routinely challenge the establishment on surveillance, privacy, and civil liberties. In reality, however, we already live in a surveillance society. CCTV is everywhere. So is automated number plate recognition. Supermarkets track our grocery habits and social media giants know and sell everything about our lives. The surveillance and privacy genie is already out of the bottle and the Police need all the tech and systems they can get to keep us safe in the modern world. Surveillance by democratically controlled authorities is much better than the uncontrolled ‘surveillance capitalism’ regimes – a term from a radio item this morning – of the giant social media companies!

The Pc who dealt with the Badger went on to apprehend three youths who robbed a corner shop at knife point. The Pc emailed the next day apologising for the delay to a follow-up letter due to this! The Badger was gobsmacked. Support your local police officers; they deserve more respect than they get…


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