To the left of frame, a feminine hand is pressing a button. Presumably this alerts the police. When they find the homeowner's body, they'll wonder why she didn't simply throw herself against the door, thus crushing the burglar's wrist. It doesn't look like the hand of a burglar. In 1983 people in Britain were not allowed to own firearms with which to defend themselves. If you were old and a knifeman was coming through the door, that's it, you were dead. Less of a burden on the public purse, and a young family could have the house thereafter. Britain's firearms laws stem from the rise of Communism, fascism and the working class in the 1920s and 1930s, and have remained in force ever since, on account of the danger from terrorism, and the fact that guns are no longer too expensive for the riff-raff to purchase (although a shotgun from Holland & Holland will set you back around 45,000!). The rampages of Michael Ryan and Thomas Hamilton did not help the image of shooting in the UK, although it is interesting to speculate how far Ryan would have got if the people of Hungerford had owned shotguns, or small-calibre pistols. As for Hamilton, he could have done as much damage with a petrol bomb, and for that you just need petrol, oil, a bottle, and a sock. And some matches, or a lighter.

I don't know whether crime actually was proportionately more common in 1983 than it was in 1963. I don't think that anybody at the time would have been reassured by the security measures in the picture. Crime has continued to increase, which I suppose is the price of having a much more liberal society than in 1983 (at the time, the police were alowed to make arrests, and judges actually sentenced people to prison, can you imagine that?).

The 'equipment' mentioned in the caption appears to be some kind of motion sensor, which again is not much use for self-defence. Remember that in 1983 very few people had mobile phones, and indeed some people in rural locations - such as my own family - did not own a phone, period.

(c) Ashley Pomeroy 2001