Locksmiths seen as key to reducing break-ins.

Police in Birmingham are hoping to recruit an army of retiredlocksmiths to help cut the number of break-ins in the city by improvinghome security.

Officers based in Stechford are hoping to attract older people who can offer their skills and experience to help install locks at the homes of burglary victims. The initiative is backed by The Experience Corps - an independent non-profit making organisation funded by a grant from the Home Office.

It encourages people aged over 50 to use the skills they developed in their working life for the benefit of the community.

Pc John Pritchett, crime reduction officer at Stechford said: 'People who have been burgled once are more likely to be targeted again, but often cannot afford to fit better locks and security.

'We have tried lock fitting schemes in the past, but there has often been a problem getting enough people to install them.

'When we heard about The Experience Corps we realised it was a great opportunity to bring in the skills we need and also enable members of the public to give something back to the community. Police need to be out on the streets fighting crime, but we need to offer a service for burglary victims which we hope this provides.'

Pc Pritchett said he hoped to recruit as many lock fitters as possible to work in Stechford, Sheldon, Small Heath and Shard End.

Each fitter will go out to the homes of burglary victims and fit new locks which will be paid for through sponsorship.

If the pilot is successful, it could be extended across the West Midlands.

Pc Pritchett said: 'Once potential candidates are passed on to us, we will interview them and carry out the relevant security checks. They will also be insured and receive appropriate training.

'Hopefully it will also lead to a reduction in the number of break-ins by making a lot of homes more secure.'

John Furze, regional manager for The Experience Corps, said: 'This is an exciting project where people with skills can really make a difference. We are delighted to be working with West Midlands Police.'

Experienced lock fitters or anyone who wants to help is asked to contact The Experience Corps on 0800 10 60 80.

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