A geographical hazard is usually considered to be a threat on either people or property, posed by nature. It is the risk that something or someone could be put in danger. Burglary is a hazard, although not from a natural cause is still fits the definition by putting property at risk.
* A threat to property
* An invasion of privacy
It can also cause psychological damage to people where they do not feel safe within their own home. They live in fear and feel vulnerable. As with most other hazards, both natural and human, it affects both the human and built environment.
The effect on the human environment includes the invasion of privacy and the loss of property and possessions, whilst the built environment may be affected by damage and loss of property.
The fact that the frequency and location of burglary cannot be predicted illustrates further the hazard that is burglary. It is hard to predict as most of the burglary in Britain is opportunistic and is not planned.
To investigate the location and frequency of burglaries in the UK we could use police records. This would tell us where and when the burglaries happened. The only problem with this is that not all burglaries are reported. People may not report burglaries for a variety of reasons. The only reason some people report them to the police is so they can get a crime reference number, which allows them to make an insurance claim. Some people, if not much is stolen may not bother claiming on the insurance as it will result in a higher premium and so do not report it to the police. Others may not even have home and contents insurance, in which case there is no point in reporting it to the police, unless they feel that the police can retrieve the stolen goods.
In some areas reporting crime is looked down on because of the number of criminals in the area. Pressure is put on people not to report crime, and if they do they may make a bad name for themselves and further burglaries may occur, or more serious crimes, such as assault or murder could happen.
Insurance claims in the area could also be looked at but again, not everybody has insurance, or claims when there is a robbery.
House prices could be an indicator as to the amount of crime in the area, although it will not give specific numbers or exact locations. This is assuming that the house prices fall as the crime rate increases because the demand for the houses decreases. Demand falls as people do not want to live in the area and are moving out.
The price of insurance premiums is an indicator to the amount of crime in the area. Insurance companies calculate premiums by postcode and certain postcodes will pay more than others. If the standard premium is relatively high it means that there is a high occurrence of crime in the area. There is more crime or robbery and so there are more insurance claims, which leads to higher premiums. This is not completely accurate as some low risk areas still subsidise the higher risk areas by paying premiums that are higher than they should be.
The suggestions of using house prices and insurance premiums do not show the frequency for just burglary but for all crime involving loss and so are unreliable.
The best source of information about burglary and all other crime would be the British Crime Survey, which is a survey carried out nationwide to find out about the location and frequency of crime. This would be especially useful when it comes to burglary, as these sorts of crimes are not always reported. The British Crime Survey suggests that the police figures for crime such as burglary are lower then the actual figures which support the theory that not all of the burglaries are reported.
Burglary can have effects on both the human and built environment. Initially the loss of possessions from someone's home will have a financial effect, whether it will be the cost of replacing the items or the cost of increased premiums from insurance companies. When people are burgled they may be afraid of it happening again. They may live in fear and will feel vulnerable. In extreme cases it may even necessitate moving house, out of the area.
Statistics (distance decay curve) show that burglaries happen close to the criminals home. This may mean that the victim may know the thief to look at. This visual recognition will only be one way, as the victim doesn't usually find out who the burglar is. The burglar chooses local victims as they will have the advantage of local knowledge and may also know the routine of the victim so they know when they are out of the house and at work.
The built environment may be affected by the invasion of people's property. This may be physical damage to items or property. On the other hand, measures put in to restrict the movement of burglars and prevent easy get-aways may also restrict residents. The closure of alleyways may reduce the amount of burglary and other crime but it may also inconvenience residents of the area. Both the council and the local people need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of such a scheme and determine whether it will actually benefit or hinder the residents.
The built environment is also changed when areas are regenerated. The layout of the houses makes it harder for criminals such as burglars and car thieves to commit their crimes.
When burglary decreases in one area due to preventative schemes it is found that burglary rate in other areas increases as the burglars are displaced into these other areas. This has an effect in the human environment in the other areas of the city.
To prevent and control the amount of burglary in an area numerous security devices can be installed. These include burglar alarms, security lights, times switches; window locks and better locks on doors. Double-glazing can be used, as it is stronger and more secure. This equipment does not prevent the burglar from getting into the home or property but it does slow them down and hinder their progress.
Individually, people can be more observant and more vigilant and if there is something happening, get involved and try to prevent the crime rather than ignoring it and just passing by. Better security can be installed and dogs can be bought. These are the ultimate deterrent to burglars. Home with gravel drives are burgled less because when people walk on the gravel it crunches making a noise, again another deterrent.
Collectively, residents can form a neighbourhood watch scheme or campaign for better street lighting off the council. In more affluent areas there are private security patrols that people subscribe to. These are ideal but are also expensive and so not available to everyone.
It is better and easier to prevent the crime with improved security than to prevent or react to the crime after the event.
The prevention and management of burglary does depend on the perception and understanding of the crime. Most of the time preventing burglary looks at how the burglar commits the crime rather than why.
Most schemes just move the problem out of their area and onto other people so they have to deal with it. This is what the neighbourhood watch and private security patrols do.
Some towns and cities have imposed nighttime curfews that prevent the young people of the city hanging around on parks or the streets after a certain time. This may prevent nighttime crimes such a burglary and car crime but may result in more personal attacks such as muggings and assault.
To start to reduce the number of burglaries people have to address the initial problem, why the people are committing burglary in the first place. Most of the time burglary is opportunistic and is done either out of boredom or because they need money for drugs.
Ideally eliminating drug use within society should reduce the amount of burglary, but it is near impossible to prevent drug crime and therefore drug related crime will continue.
The other main reason for burglary is boredom. Youngsters have nothing to do and so burglary passes the time. Schemes that have been successful in America have been introduced over here. The council are building basketball court and football pitches that young people can use safely in the evenings. This eliminates some of the boredom that the people have and it keeps the youngsters off the streets.
Poverty is another reason why people burgle property. They may feel that they can never get a job and therefore feel that they have to steal what they want rather than buy it. Also jealousy of what others have leads people to steal what they want.
I feel that the only way to stop burglary is to eliminate the reason why people actually do it not restrict how they do it with increased security. This, though, would require the authorities to stop drug use, attain full employment and stop youngsters from being on the streets, which is not going to happen.