Properties within the Education sector face increasingly serious threats
Educational applications require security measures to ensure students, staff and contents remain safe
As they say, children are the future and must be protected at all costs. Children will spend the majority of their adolescence as a pupil within the perimeter of their school property, therefore it is beyond reasonable to suggest that the premises should be secured to the most appropriate physical security standard possible. Applications within the education sector will face serious threats dependent on the location and profiling.
For schools within high-crime neighbourhoods, good security practice for school zones must protect the children not just from the physical threat, but also from the temptation of crime. What this may look like is unclear and possibly redundant, however providing a safe space that is neutral to other influences is vital.
As within the Community sectors, securing educational facilities must often be completed on shoestring budgets. Solutions must be effective in preventing all opportunist attacks such as theft as well as high-priority premeditated crime such as hostage situations. Looking at the divide between state and privatised schooling more closely, it is fair to suggest that different institutions will be targeted in different ways.
On the one hand, public schools that rely on community support and government funding assess understand that common theft, vandalism and malicious damage are the main risks to property, pupils and staff. However, privatised schools will face a complete different risk profile. One example would be that a private schools may be home to the children of high-profile individuals and ultra-high net worth individuals, meaning hostage situations and blackmail are genuine concerns.
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Securing property that is required for educational purposes can be straightforward, given the risks are efficiently profiled.
Having spent many years securing applications of this type nationwide, one common occurrence that arises time and time again is the over-specifying the standards of security required. The LPS 1175 standard, as recognised by crime prevention police initiative Secured By Design (SBD), categorises security products on the basis on tool severity. Essentially based on the understanding that the more determined an attacker is to enter a building, a higher-power tool they will use to gain entry. For a school that has identified vandalism as the most significant threat, securing the property with vehicular-ram resistant perimeter measures would be an inefficient use of resource.
Planning restrictions and regulations for can complicate how effective the security measures will be. Restrictions set forth by vested parties including the Department of Education’s ISS and SPRs regulations, listed building consent if applicable and faculty permissions.
OFSTED inspections will also assess the educational buildings against a basic criterion, looking at everything from the site perimeter management to quality of internal enclosures and fire doors. Authorised access management systems and strict control of restrictions areas must also be integrated, supporting the physical measures in place.
Implementation of security measures are the most successful when there is widespread integration through-out every element of the security matrix. The physical solutions will not be as effective if access is given freely and without caution yet predicting security breaches is difficult without the use of technology. There must be synergy between the security measures implemented through-out the property for it to be secured effectively.
Common challenges when securing schools and educational premises
It is generally true that crimes committed against UK educational applications are opportunist rather that emotive. However, incidents worldwide have highlighted that schools are not safe from terror attacks. Within the US where gun regulations are more relaxed, there has been an average of one mass school shooting for every week of 2018 so far. Whilst gun crime in the UK has historically been lower compared to the US and other nations, recent statistics have recorded a spike in gun crime in the larger UK cities.
The tremulous situation of seclusion and discrimination has become very concerning, so ensuring security systems are regularly revised is a good practice.
Similarly, with geographic influence on risk profiling, the type of educational facility (referring to state, private, and institutions that host children on a full board basis) being secured must also be considered. For public or states schools, where funding is limited and resources few, top priorities, are general pupil safety and property protection against vandals and theft. For institutions that offer full term-time boarding, the physical security measures must provide 24/7 access to authorised staff (rather than being locked down daily).
All security measures must find a compromise between specification, building restriction and aesthetic. For iconic schooling institutions such as Eton College, maintaining building condition is the utmost priority, therefore, the security measures in place heavily rely on personnel and technology, without the benefit of independently certified physical security solutions. Schools that don’t face this consideration can remain within their budget and fully implement physical solutions as a one-off payment, rather than moving budget allowances to support the wages of a security guard.
However, it must be kept in the mind that the main user of this application will be children. Securing the site is essential but there must a balance between fortification and general building appeal – children will begin resenting the space meant to encourage if it looks and feels like a prison.