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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 10:30 GMT
Burglary victims speak out
Burglary
Burglars are often unaware of the effects of their crime
Two victims of break-ins give their response to the latest crime figures and to the controversial suggestion that first-time burglars should not be jailed.

Mother Lisa Stevens, whose home has been burgled twice, believes a strong deterrent is the only way to stop first-time burglars striking again.

"If they are doing community service, say painting someone's fence, they could be staking the place out thinking 'when I've done my community service I will go back there and do that house'," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

They (burglars) don't realise the effect that it has on people

Lisa Stevens

Her six-year-old daughter has been left "petrified" after burglars struck twice at their home over a three-and-a-half year period, she said.

"Every time I go in my front door I think 'have I been burgled again'. Every day my little girl thinks they are going to come back.

"Even if I am there, she still does not like me being on my own."

'Frightened'

She believes the old adage "you do the crime, you do the time", is the only way.

"They (burglars) don't realise the effect that it has on people."

Young people in particular, she feels, will simply go off and repeat the crime if the punishment is not tough enough.

Barbara Lamb, a former Victim Support counsellor, has been burgled on three occasions.

"I had three different reactions each time," she said.

"The first time I came home to find the window and door were opened. We did not want to go in because we were frightened someone might still be in there," she said.

The second time she found her personal and treasured jewellery had been taken as well as electrical items and she was left very upset.

"The third time, after we'd had an alarm installed, they smashed the alarm and this made me very angry," she said.

I would like to meet the burglars who came to my house

Barbara Lamb

But her view is more in line with that held by Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, that first-time non-professional non-violent domestic burglars should no longer be sent to prison.

Success

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, recently said he had a similar view, saying community sentences could work more effectively than prison terms in rehabilitating offenders.

Barbara Lamb said she believes the key to rehabilitating criminals is making them face up to their crimes and meet the victims.

She has visited and talked to prisoners in jail where such programmes are succeeding.

She said: "Community service and ... bringing the victims and perpetrators together can work," she said.

"I would like to meet the burglars who came to my house," she added.

Lisa Stevens agreed that if burglars could understand the effects of their crime it could be an effective deterrent.

"If they met my little girl they would realise how terrified she has become. It could go on for months and months and months."


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See also:

06 Jan 03 | Politics
09 Jan 03 | Politics
08 Jan 03 | Politics
07 Jan 03 | UK
07 Jan 03 | England
06 Jan 03 | Entertainment
13 Aug 02 | England
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