Securing the education sector

An intruder alarm in a primary school in Keighley recently interrupted three teenagers after they broke into the school, causing them to swiftly leave without taking anything. The BSIA’s James Kelly discusses the importance of such measures to keep schools safe in and out of working hours

With today’s constantly evolving technological landscape, not to mention the sheer amount of products available on the market, it can be difficult to know whether or not the chosen security solution is truly fit for purpose and will meet the specific security requirements of the school. With this in mind, the BSIA’s Security Systems Section recently compiled a free guide to help key decision makers within schools understand the real, tangible benefits of installing intruder alarms – and other systems – as well as providing clear advice as to what standards such systems should meet, and how decision makers should go about procuring such a solution.

Discussing the need for the guide, Martin Harvey, chairman of the BSIA’s Security Systems Section explained: “It is essential that key decision makers are taking security seriously and making the necessary arrangements to protect their premises from both internal and external threats. The installation of high quality intruder alarms and their integration with other security systems, such as access control and CCTV, can provide vital peace of mind that the site is being protected both in and out of school hours. With such a wide variety of products on the market, as a section we felt it was necessary to create a helpful, concise guide to inform decision makers of the benefits of different security systems.”

SECURING EDUCATION

Members of the BSIA’s Security Systems Section already have a wealth of experience within the education sector. To demonstrate this, the BSIA conducted a survey of the section members and their involvement in securing the education sector.

Fifty per cent of respondents felt that the use of private security measures in the education sector had increased over the previous 12 months, while 67 per cent anticipated them increasing over the next 12 months. In terms of the biggest threat facing the education sector, survey respondents felt that student and staff welfare was the most important factor to protect, emphasising the importance of investing in high quality security solutions.

MONITOR AND DETECT

The key purpose of an intruder alarm system is to monitor and detect unauthorised entry to a premises, consequently alerting the police or other response services and / or authorised people – such as a caretaker, headmaster or key holding service – to attend the property as part of a response plan. An intruder alarm can also incorporate a panic alarm (PA) facility; a panic alarm, which is sometimes referred to as a hold up alarm (HA/HUA), is an electronic device designed to assist in alerting somebody in emergency situations where there is a real threat to a person or property.

This could mean alerting the police, local security guards or another response service. Often, intruder alarms are remotely monitored and linked to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), where trained operators can assess the situation and respond accordingly. Remote monitoring can be beneficial in that it gives vital peace of mind that the premises is being closely monitored outside of hours and that if an incident does occur, it will be dealt with promptly.

First and foremost, before choosing a security system, it is very important for key decision makers to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment of the property. The risk assessment must address the specific security risks that are both present and foreseen, as this will have a direct impact on the ability of the installed security system to function effectively. Once the requirements have been laid out, it is also important that the decision maker has a clear understanding of the standards a system must comply with in order to be fit for purpose. In the case of monitored intruder alarms, it is very important to be aware of the fact that in order for a police response to be issued once an alarm is raised, the monitored intruder alarm must meet with the specific requirements set out by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

It is also important to note that in Scotland, requirements are set out by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS). For one, the installation of the alarm and the services provided by the installing company must be certified by a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)‑accredited certification body. For monitored systems that send signals to an ARC, the ARC must also comply with either British Standard BS 5979 (cat II) or BS EN 50518. Compliant systems will be issued a Unique Reference Number (URN), meaning they will then receive a level 1 priority police response.

These systems will receive this priority response until three false calls – or four in the case of Scotland – within a rolling 12‑month period. According to the NPCC, a false alarm would be one that has not resulted from: a criminal attack, or attempts at such, on the protected premises; actions by the emergency services in the execution of their duty; or a call emanating from a hold up alarm with good intent. The activation of detectors without apparent damage or entry to the premises and line faults are considered as a false alarm unless proved otherwise.

SECURITY PERSONNEL

As well as adhering to these essential police guidelines, there are many other crucial standards that intruder alarms and their installers must meet with in order to ensure you are choosing a reliable product and service. This includes the fact that any security personnel should be vetted to BS 7858, which is the Code of Practice for Security Screening of Individuals Employed in a Security Environment.

This code sets the standard for the security screening of staff in an environment where the safety of people, goods or property is essential. As such, when choosing someone to install an intruder alarm system – or any other type of security system – it is essential that they meet with BS 7858. In addition, compliance with the PD 6662 scheme enables intruder and hold‑up alarm systems to be installed and maintained in accordance with published British and European standards.

Full details can be found in the BSIA’s new guide. In general, a compliant, high quality intruder alarm can carry many added value benefits, for one, a high quality system can result in lower insurance premiums, helping to reduce costs whilst providing around the clock protection. They can also be valuably integrated with other security measures, such as CCTV systems and access control measures, in order to form a more comprehensive layer of security.

Overall, when choosing a security company to install an intruder alarm, there are many requirements that the company should meet.
The BSIA’s new guide provides a useful checklist of such requirements in order to aid decision makers in the procurement process. Perhaps one of the most important ones is that the installer must be a member of a trusted trade association like the BSIA.

Membership of the BSIA would mean the installer meets with `the essential British and European standards and would be able to supply an intruder alarm that would gain the necessary police response and ensure the safety of the school, staff and pupils. The guide also provides some best practice examples of BSIA members who have supplied their services in the education sector, demonstrating the benefits of working with a trusted, reputable supplier.

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