Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association (CNWA), began their Video Doorbell Project as part of Neighbourhood Watch Week in June 2019.
Video doorbells allow people to remotely view and speak to anyone coming to their door, such as parcel deliveries, and can also provide visual evidence in criminal proceedings. Following a suggestion from a Board member, CNWA carried out research on their effectiveness and agreed to use them as the main feature of Cumbria’s Neighbourhood Watch Week.
Cumbria Victims Support were keen to support the initiative, as well as Cumbria Police Crime Prevention staff, using the devices to provide high risk victims of domestic abuse with greater peace of mind and potentially helping to prevent potential offending. police officers and PCSO’s around the County have also asked for video doorbells for victims of other crimes, such as antisocial behaviour and burglary. Referrals came from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors from Cumbria Victim Support and the project also included a discount for members of CNWA for a period of time.
Recipients would be eligible to receive one device provided they had broadband fitted to the home and a mobile device that enabled them to download the required app. They are allowed to keep the doorbell for as long as they feel is necessary. Each recipient creates an online account in which they agree to pay £25 annually to enable them access to historical CCTV coverage, something that is explained to them from the outset. To date, everyone has agreed to this.
Crime Prevention staff have also referred clients for video doorbells having visited their homes and considering the victim to be vulnerable and high risk.
Referrals are made direct to CNWA by email to ensure that data protection is addressed and all information treated as highly confidential.
In relation to risk assessments, CNWA have been totally reliant on referrals from the police and Victims Support and if they consider their client in need of a video doorbell.
The doorbells have been fitted by CNWA at no cost. However during lockdown CNWA posted the video doorbells to the clients and then advised them by phone on how to set it up. They are fitted to either the door or nearby wall to achieve the greatest coverage. In some cases, victim’s cars have been damaged so coverage of the cars are also included.
Recipients have been a mixture of people who live in either their own homes, privately rented or housing association tenants. In the case of rented or housing association recipients, are asked to seek permission to allow the video doorbell to be fitted to their property. All requests have been approved so far.
Importantly these video doorbells are ‘Secured by Design’ approved .Each video doorbell cost £179 and were supplied by Ring. There are a number of companies that provide similar devices, including our sponsors ERA. Video doorbells can be used for any purpose where the victim is in need of something that provides an element of reassurance long term. Our clients have been unable to cover the cost of the doorbells, and terrified of the perpetrator knocking on their door harassing them with the potential of facing violence as well.
In every case the impact of having had a Video Doorbell fitted has been unbelievable and very touching to hear how reassured they feel as a result.
Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association
At least 3 of my clients have had these doorbells arranged by yourself and fitted in recent months. Each of those clients has reported how much of a difference it has made to their feelings of safety whilst in their home. On one occasion the doorbell actively prevented a client from opening the door to a dangerous perpetrator, thus ensuring her safety.
We often see that clients aren’t able to afford CCTV therefore the doorbells also act as a secondary form of security for our clients. They are able to capture ongoing crimes in relation to their cases, and ultimately their criminal cases have been strengthened by the use of the video evidence.
All of my clients have reported that they are very easy to use,and have complimented your interactions with them when you have been out to fit them.
I would very much encourage a wider roll out of these doorbells for Cumbria, personally I feel they have been invaluable to the ongoing safety of our clients.
Independent Domestic Violence Advisor - South Cumbria