Layering up security measures

Using a layered security approach will help education settings delay, deter and prevent incidents. But as part of this strategy, it is key to balance security without imposing fear, as Reilly Russell explains.

Every place of education has a duty of care to its staff and students. 

With this, comes with the responsibility of ensuring their safety is being taken care of from a security perspective. 

It is also a legal obligation under the Health & Safety Act 1974 that defines how a school, college or university is liable to protect the wellbeing of those on the premises. However, this can be challenging with the wide variety of threats that places of education face. 

Despite this, it is easily managed and maintained with the best security practices in place that will help minimise threats as much as possible.

Using best practices against risks

Putting in place a layered security approach to a school can help mitigate risks at their point of potential. 

This means putting in several security measures that aim to tackle different threats. For example, start by looking at the perimeter of a place of higher education. Think about it: Is it fenced off with limited access, or is it open to the public to walk into? 

If not adequately protected, the risk of trespassing will significantly increase. With trespassing also comes the risk of vandalism, burglaries, and other unwanted incidents. Some sixth forms and colleges overcome this with the use of physical security that surrounds the entrance point of the premises, such as external speed gates. Of course, this sort of solution needs to withstand the harshest of weather conditions to remain outdoors. Therefore, speed gates with an IP53 rating will overcome this. Meesons’ EasyGate SPT-Outdoor Speed Gates have IP53 Rated Ingress protection, meaning they can cope with heat and humidity as well as rain and snow. 

It is also crucial for these solutions to be unobtrusive to avoid causing a concern.     

Additionally, to protect both the perimeter and infrastructure, good quality CCTV can be introduced. Cameras will work as a subtle visual deterrent while also helping management identify who is responsible for any problems caused. 

If the sixth form or college poses a high risk, then the addition of sensor-activated CCTV may be necessary. 

Alongside sensor detection, to enhance perimeter protection further, ANPR CCTV will pick up cars’ number plates; therefore, if there is suspicious activity going on around the premises, it can be picked up on and investigated.     
Within the infrastructure of sixth forms and colleges, access control plays a pivotal role for its security. For example, access control can prevent students from entering staff-only areas with key fob or smartphone access tools. 

By doing this, a visitor management system can be implemented and restricting access to certain areas within the building can be enforced. 

The benefit of this is also that if a burglary or vandalism incident occurs, the visitor management system can inform you of who was in present at the time, helping you solve the problem far quicker. 

Balancing security without imposing fear

As part of this layered approach to a place of education’s security, it is key to balance the measures in place without imposing fear.

This means using solutions that easily blend into the surroundings and are unobtrusive. When selecting solutions such as speed gates, it would be best practice to customise them to suit their surroundings. For example, when Meesons provided outdoor speed gates to Halesowen College, the college chose stainless steel as it suited the industrial appearance.

However, a larger, more heavy-duty security solution that won’t go unnoticed may alarm students as to why such strict security measures are in place and, therefore, cause worry or a sense of uncertainty. In comparison to this, speed gates are subtle and can match the aesthetics of the environment while still working as a visual deterrent to people who may want to gain unauthorised access.

Likewise, CCTV can be carefully placed to deter people who are causing problems and looking out for security measures, but without making students and staff feel as though they’re being watched.

However, it is important that they can be noticed as it will prevent those looking to vandal or steal from doing so due to the consequences of being caught.

On top of this, key fob entry is a subtle security measure that is user-friendly and gives a sense of safety without being very noticeable. Smartphone entry enhances this security further as it will prevent students from entering using incorrect credentials while being unlikely to misplace this form of entry in comparison to a key fob. In addition, having such access control methods in place allows an accurate generation of data about building activity which can help a place of education in future determine the busier areas to add additional security layers to.

Prevention is key

Prevention is key to ensuring a place of education is carrying out the best security measures. Having a response plan in place in case of an incident will be ideal for dealing with it quickly and efficiently. Also, gathering feedback from staff and students can help places of higher education improve the security measures in place. For example, having a security union at a college that contributes ideas, expresses personal pain points regarding safety concerns, and voices feedback from others can help to tackle the exact issues that the particular place of education is facing.     

Finally, having a strict security policy in place that is adhered to will ensure that you have the right contacts for any problems that occur with the security systems or local police contacts for emergencies, as well as how to handle the risks if they happen.

Combining this mix of security layers will help colleges and sixth forms achieve security best practices. Using a layered approach strategy allows all methods to work together to delay, deter, and prevent incidents. Having these measures in place will ensure that staff and students feel safe and protected and help overcome incidents if they occur.

Written by Reilly Russell from Meesons, on behalf of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).