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What goes bump in the night? Mums sleepless over burglary fears

Fear of crime soars in mothers as they worry about family and home in modern Britain

Mothers in the United Kingdom fear crime against their family and property on a daily basis and lose sleep over it.

A national security camera company has found that nine-tenths of mothers with children under 16 living at home worry that their house may be burgled during the night as they sleep, even though crime figures show their fears are largely unfounded.

According to the Yorkshire-based CCTV.co.uk company, fear of crime is a major issue for many British people, but is particularly the case for those with young families.

“Year-on-year crime figures show that this kind of crime – robbery from an occupied home – is very rare and falling,” says CCTV.co.uk spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe, “but it’s still rates highest on people’s fears, especially those who consider themselves a vulnerable group.”

Ratcliffe and his staff at CCTV.co.uk spoke not just to their own customers, but also to members of the general public about their views on crime against property.

For those with young families, the numbers were startling:

Have you ever been a victim of home burglary?

  • Yes – 3%
  • No – 97%

Do you fear being a victim of home burglary?

  • Yes – 88%
  • No – 12%

That’s backed up by statements from parents who spoke to CCTV.co.uk this October:

Melissa, London: “We live in a cul-de-sac in a pretty posh area, but I still lie there at night jumping at every bump and rattle thinking it’s a burglar. But what can you do?”

Bryony and Peter, Manchester: “Somebody tried to break into our house one night just last year, but they were defeated by the front door lock. Even though we know we’re safe, and the police were great at reassuring us, we’re still going to up our security because you never know.”

Katie, Edinburgh: “You know what? My kids are in secondary school and I have a baby monitor set up in the living room so I can hear if anyone breaks in at night. That’s not daft, is it?”

That’s not daft at all, CCTV.co.uk’s Ratcliffe says, and here’s why:

  • The latest crime figures released by the government in October of this year showed another year-on-year fall in thefts from homes, continuing a downward trend which started over 20 years ago. In fact, there are 72% fewer of these incidents in the last year than there were in 1995.
  • However, perceived fear of crime remains relatively high, especially among vulnerable groups such as parents and the elderly

So why the fear of crime? And why this group in particular?

“It’s simple, really,” says Ratcliffe, “Mothers have the burden of protection on them, even more than father figures. It’s part of their social programming to worry about the family and the household. Yes, fathers have that fear too, but the gender balance appears to be lopsided.”

Press coverage also appears to stoke these fears, and social scientist Stuart Hall’s famous study on moral panics surrounding violent crime shows how some people are more affected than others.

But there are ways to help put minds at rest, says Ratcliffe.

“Although government figures tell us this sort of crime is rare, worry remains very real. But you can make a difference without turning your home into a fortress,” says Ratcliffe.

While leaving a baby monitor in the living room might help people like Katie in Edinburgh sleep at night, other steps to deter housebreakers might be needed.

“The visible deterrent of a CCTV camera system is one solution worth thinking about,” he says.

“The latest technology means picture quality – even at night – is through the roof, while prices continue to fall.

“But it’s the very fact that you have cameras mounted on your property that will make criminals think twice, day or night,” Ratcliffe continues.

Most importantly of all, it’s the peace of mind of knowing you are being protected 24 hours a day that stamps out the worry of violent crime and crime against property.

“The facts speak for themselves – you’ve never been less likely to be the victim of a housebreaker,” says CCTV.co.uk’s Jonathan Ratcliffe.

“As the man from Crimewatch says: Don’t have nightmares.”

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