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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 15:47 GMT
'Yellow box' plan to beat muggers
Cash machine privacy area
The privacy areas have been tried out in some British cities
Yellow lines are to be painted on the pavement around cash machines across the UK in a Home Office initiative to reduce the number of muggings.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said the so-called "privacy spaces" were a "simple common sense" measure that had been shown to cut crime.

The job of painting the lines will be given to young offenders.

The government is under pressure to tackle street crime after figures last month showed it was on the rise.

"Pilots have shown that 'privacy spaces' can reduce crime at bank machines and we're working with industry to roll these out," said Mr Coaker.

He said the boxes, which will be partly funded by High Street banks through their APACS payment association, made it easier for potential victims to spot robbers encroaching on their space.

Guidance on the "design and installation" of the boxes has been developed jointly by the Home Office, Local Government Association and APACS, the Home Office said in a statement.

Pilot scheme

Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, said: "A marked out zone around a cash machine may not seem like much of a deterrent, but the evidence points to a reduction in fraud coupled with a greater sense of security for cash machine users.

Schemes such as 'privacy spaces' show that local authorities are not afraid of boxing clever in order to cut street crime
Local government association

"The vast majority of cash machine withdrawals take place crime free and the privacy space initiative will help to reduce this type of crime even further."

A 2003 pilot scheme by Greater Manchester Police found offences within 150 metres of cash machines with privacy spaces went down by 66% compared with a reduction of 34% within 150 metres of those without, the Home Office said.

The government has been under pressure to do more to tackle robberies after figures last month showed the risk of being a victim of crime is rising at the fastest rate in more than 10 years.

Robberies went up by 1% according to recorded crime figures for July to September 2006, while the widely-respected British Crime Survey suggested they had gone up by 14%.

Mobile phones

But Mr Coaker said "people should feel safer now" because "violent crime have fallen by over a third in the last nine years and the risk of being a victim is at a historic low".

He said the government was working with industry to reduce street crime and had also secured a renewed pledge from mobile phone operators to meet their target of blocking stolen phones.

The Local Government Association is recommending offenders on community sentences, under supervision of the Youth Offending Team or on probation, should be given the job of painting the "privacy spaces".


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