Briefing Note for Architects and Consultants
In order to teach and to learn, staff and pupils must feel safe and secure.
Criminal and anti-social behaviour can cause disruption to the work of the school, physical and mental damage to people and damage to buildings. Worse, fear is created amongst pupils, staff and parents, which is out of all proportion to the actual crimes committed.
The cost of this criminal activity cannot be accurately determined. How could you put a cost on Dunblane or the Machete attack at St Luke's Infants School? There are thousands of incidents a year in our schools, fortunately, not as serious as these, but they are disruptive, they do cause damage and they do cause fear. The overall cost is enormous.
Approximately 75% of recorded crime in schools is opportunistic and will be carried out by outsiders, parents, pupils and sadly, staff. Add to this the effect of anti social behaviour, which is generally not recorded and which comes in all forms from dog fouling of playing fields, graffiti, to bullying and generally loutish behaviour.
Trends indicate that overall, crime is being reduced but certain types of crime particularly arson are increasing. Losses through arson are a significant national statistic of great concern to insurance companies and LEA's alike.Efficient physical security can be designed in at the beginning and should provide staff and managers of the school with the basic facilities necessary to easily maintain a secure environment for themselves and the children in their care. It should also avoid the need for unsightly retrofitting of security systems leading inevitably to the undesirable 'fortress' look and reduction in the quality of the school environment
To do this requires fundamental thought by architects and planners at the start of the design process either for new build or when any existing school is undergoing a building or refurbishment programme. The preparation of a Crime Impact Statement at the outset will establish the risks and provide a basis for decisions regarding appropriate security features to be included in the design.
The following recommendations are an indication of the typical environmental security issues to be considered. Solutions will vary from site to site and will depend on the location and management style of the school.
Provide a substantial secure boundary and limit access points for vehicles and pedestrians. Negotiate the removal of public rights of way across the site. Fences should be substantial and gates should be of a similar standard. A secure boundary is of primary importance to school security. It will reduce and allow the effective management of most crime and anti social behaviour problems that can be anticipated. Use landscaping to enhance security and resolve aesthetic issues.
Limit and control the main access route for visitors to the school. Ensuring that it is direct, easily accessible and clearly signed. Importantly, main access routes should not allow opportunities for informal unsupervised access to other parts of the school.
Keep the building shell simple in shape and plan form to aid surveillance and reduce hiding places. Avoid recesses or overhangs, which might provide opportunities for shelter, which could be abused.
Consider and introduce where possible natural surveillance from windows across open spaces playgrounds and car parks.
Roofs generally should be designed to inhibit casual access and avoid hiding places for intruders. Avoid flat roofs and weak security points such as roof lights and ventilators. Simple pitched roof shapes with robust eaves details are preferable.
Avoid providing easy climbing facilities to roofs, which may be provided by rainwater down pipes, overflow pipes and low gutters. Steps provided by wall features or adjacent railings and other features should also be avoided.
Assist surveillance around buildings and assist with staff personal safety with good quality energy efficient dusk to dawn lighting, which is vandal resistant. Avoid high lighting levels, which may produce threatening dark shadows.
Secure car parking and cycle storage should be overlooked, well lit with limited access points. Cycle storage facilities should be capable of being locked up and secured.
Secure windows and doors to be to 'Secured by Design' standard as a minimum (details from www.securedbydesign.com)
Provide an Intruder alarm system linked to police response.
Provide facilities to keep rubbish disposal away from buildings, keeping 'wheelie bins' and skips secure so they cannot provide opportunities for access to roofs or arson attack.
Provide 'designed for purpose' secure areas where high value or vulnerable items of equipment are used. Provide appropriate secure storage facilities for high value portable equipment. Note the increased lap top computer use.
In high risk areas consider shutters or grills for windows, sprinkler systems, facilities for CCTV and manned guarding.
Gloucestershire Constabulary have Crime Reduction Design Advisors who will provide a free consultancy service to assist in the preparation of a Crime Impact Statement and will consider designing out opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour. These are listed at www.securedbydesign.com where the full 'Secured by Design Guide - Schools' is also published.
If you are from another force or live out of our county then most forces will have Crime Reduction Officers/Architectural Liaison Officers or Crime Prevention Design Advisers.