Criminal gangs blamed for burglary increase

Organised criminal gangs are fuelling the increase in burglary it has been revealed, with offences almost doubling last year in some of the worst hit areas of the UK.

criminal gangs

Police have seen evidence that menacing gangs of thieves are spending weeks ransacking an area, before moving onto a new location.

An analysis of official figures reveals that some of the nation’s wealthiest areas have been hardest hit by the rise in offences.

The lead officer for addressing burglary at the Metropolitan Police, Supt Sean Wilson, said the days of the ‘opportunist’ burglar were disappearing. He said organised gangs were ‘far more sophisticated’ and are even using social media to find victims and mobile phones to co-ordinate their crimes.

A breakdown reveals some of the hardest hit areas include some of the wealthiest towns, suburbs and villages. Among them are Durham, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire where thousands of extra offences took place. In recent weeks police have also warned of burglary spates in Portsmouth, Newquay, Batley in West Yorkshire, Chester, Winchester and south Wales.

Top ten police force crime increase
Source: Daily Mail


Tumble Dryer Safety Tips

A useful addition to any household, tumble dryers are a godsend to most, but only when used safely.

Recent safety notices recalling 4.5 million Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, Proline and Swan appliances mean that there’s never been a better time to ensure you are using your machine correctly and helping to keep yourself and your family safe.

When purchasing a new tumble dryer, always ensure that you register the appliance with the manufacturer. This means that, if there should be a problem with a particular product line, you will be contacted and your machine fixed or replaced. Whilst the chances of a faulty product causing serious damage are relatively small, the risk is still very real.

All appliances, regardless of age, can be registered online with Register My Appliance – an online service which automatically checks for any product recalls or known faults. You can also use this free online checker to see if you own a product that has been recalled in the past.

If you’re concerned about fitting a new tumble dryer yourself, get a qualified electrician to do it for you.

tumble dryer safety tips

Clean the lint and fluff out of your tumbler dryer filter after every use.

Tumble Dryer Maintenance and Safety Tips

  • Clean out lint and fluff from the filter and around the door after every use.
  • Watch out for scorching or burn marks on your clothing or on the dryer door, and check for loose or worn wires.
  • Have your dryer serviced annually by a qualified engineer.
  • Never overload the dryer – take large or bulky items, such as duvets, to the dry-cleaners or the laundrette.
  • Always allow each drying programme, including the cool down cycle, to fully complete.
  • Don’t stop the dryer before the end of the cycle unless all items are quickly removed and the door is left open to dissipate any heat.
  • Leave clothes contaminated with combustible substances, such as solvents, grease, oils or fats, out of tumble dryers to minimise the chances of anything igniting.
  • Don’t leave dryers, dishwashers and washing machines on overnight. If possible, unplug or switch off appliances at the socket overnight and when going out to avoid the risk of an electrical fault causing a fire.
  • Never leave a tumble dryer on whilst you are out of the home.

*Source: ElectricalSafetyFirst, Which?

View crime in your area with

Whether you’re planning on buying a new property and want to suss out the area, or you are just interested in knowing more about your street, a quick postcode search on the crime map is the easiest way see what’s going on around you. crime map

The website allows anyone in the UK to search for information on crime in their area simply by entering a street name or postcode. The interactive maps online pinpoint streets where reported crimes have taken place, but not specific properties, in order to protect victims from being identified.

Crime information is broken down into six categories – burglary, robbery, vehicle crime, violence, other crime and anti-social behaviour, with sex crimes and  theft and shoplifting being in the ‘other’ category, again to help protect victims.

Users can also see whether their location has a higher than average crime level and compare it to other places across the country, and see whether crime has risen or fallen over the years.

Local police appeals and details of police community meetings are published alongside the maps.

See crime in my area.

Which? calls for action on faulty household appliances

A recent investigation by consumer body Which? has revealed that faulty household appliances are responsible for more than 60 house fires each week in the UK.

kitchen fire

This “stubbornly high” figure highlights the fact that Government action to remove potentially dangerous electrical white goods from homes is falling “woefully short”, Which? warns, as it challenges ministers to explain how the fledgling Office for Product Safety and Standards will tackle the problem.

The investigation analysis, based on fire data obtained via Freedom of Information requests, reveals that the amount of fires has stayed at roughly the same level for five years, with malfunctioning kitchen appliances causing approximately 16,000 fires across the UK since 1 April 2012.

Faulty washing machines and dryers were the most high-risk appliances, causing more than a third (35%) of blazes between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016. Over the same period, cookers and ovens caused 11% of fires, dishwashers 10% and fridges, freezers and fridge freezers 8%.

Which? faulty appliance graph

Graph courtesy of Which?

Which? has written to ministers giving them three months in which to devise and publish a strategic plan for the Office for Product Safety and Standards. It urges them to set out the “true scale” of product safety risks in the UK and take immediate steps to prevent further fires, including removing an estimated one million potentially faulty Whirlpool-made tumble dryers which are still present in UK homes.

Last month a House of Commons committee urged Whirlpool to take “urgent action” to resolve the problem that has led to at least 750 fires since 2004. Its inquiry into risks from faulty electrical items was triggered by last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy when 71 people died in a fire caused by a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.burnt out washing machine and tumble drier

The move forms part of Which?’s new End Dangerous Products campaign, calling for a shake-up of the UK’s antiquated product safety regime to keep dangerous electrical white goods out of homes.

“It’s shocking that there are more than 60 house fires every week in the UK because of faulty appliances” said Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive. “The government must now publish an action plan for the Office of Product Safety and Standards, setting out what it will do to keep dangerous products out of consumers’ homes and tackle Britain’s broken product safety regime.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government’s top priority is to keep people safe, which is why last month we set out our approach to further strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety system.”

*Source: Which?, The Guardian


Valentine’s candle safety advice

It’s Valentine’s Day, the international day of love, but before you reach for the candles in order create a romantic setting, make sure you our top tips for candle safety.

Couple kiss over romantic meal

Candles are a popular way to create a romantic mood over dinner.

In the year 2003 alone, there were 1791 house fires due to candles. As a result, 22 people died and over 650 were injured. A huge 37% of these candle fires started in the bedroom.

As the sales of candles has gone up by 50% in recent years, this trend is unfortunately going to continue unless people are educated as to the dangers of candles and the damage they can cause.

Candles mark special occasions and create a special atmosphere. They also bring fire into your home. So treat them with respect.

Top Tips for Candle Safety

  • Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects
  • Put them in a proper holder. Candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either
  • Position them away from curtains. Don’t put candles near curtains or other fabrics – or furniture. And keep them out of draughts
  • Don’t put them under shelves. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there’s at least three feet (one metre) between a candle and any surface above it
  • Keep clothes and hair away. If there’s any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else. You don’t want to set fire to your clothes or your hair
  • Keep children and pets away. Candles should be out of reach of children and pets
  • Keep candles apart. Leave at least four inches (10cm) between two burning candles
  • Take care with votive or scented candles. These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder
  • Don’t move them when they’re burning. Extinguish candles before moving them. Also, don’t let anything fall into the hot wax like match sticks
  • Don’t leave them burning. Extinguish candles before you leave a room. Never go to sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child’s bedroom
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out. It’s safer than blowing them, which can send sparks and hot wax flying
  • Double check they’re out. Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire. Make sure they’re completely out.



Stay safe this pancake day

With around 60% of accidental home fires starting in the kitchen, a stark warning has been issued by firefighters across the UK urging people to stay safe on Pancake Day.

pancake day stack

In 2017, London’s fire crews were called to 2,458 cooking-related fires, 248 of which resulted in injuries, and this year they are offering some simple advice in attempt to avoid kitchen catastrophes.

Charlie Pugsley, the Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “We all like to enjoy pancakes on Shrove Tuesday but cooking can quickly take a dangerous turn.

“It doesn’t take much to burn a pancake, so make sure you never leave your frying pan unattended.

“If the pan does catch fire, never tackle it yourself and don’t attempt to move it or throw water on it as it could create a fireball.

“The best thing you can do is leave the room, close the door, warn others in the property and call 999.”

London firefighters have already attended 210 cooking-related fires so far in 2018 which resulted in 26 injuries.

frying pan on fire

Unattended frying pans can catch fire easily.

Read how to keep yourself safe below with the London Fire Brigade’s tips to preventing cooking fires.

How to prevent cooking fires

  • Avoid leaving cooking unattended
  • Don’t cook if you are tired, having been drinking alcohol or taking medication which might make you drowsy
  • Take care not to lean over hot hobs and keep tea towels and clothes away from the cooker and hob
  • Be careful to keep the over, hob, cook hood and grill clean to avoid a build-up of fat and grease, which could ignite and cause a fire
  • Use spark devices to light gas cookers – they are much safer than matches or lighters as they don’t have a naked flame
  • Double check the cooker and hob are turned off when you’ve finished cooking
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from anything that can catch fire
  • Never put anything metal in the microwave
  • Never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony – burning or smouldering fuel can cause carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Supervise children and pets in the kitchen at all times and keep matches and saucepan handles out of reach

If a pan catches fire

  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself and don’t attempt to move the pan
  • Never throw water over a fire as it could create a fireball
  • Turn off the heat, if it is safe to do so
  • Leave the room, close the door, shout a warning to others and call 999

Deep fat fryer safety

  • Take care when cooking with hot oil – it can easily overheat and catch fire
  • Never fill a pan more than one-third full of fat or oil
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil
  • If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • Use an electronic deep fat fryer if possible – they have built-in thermostats to control the temperature