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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
October 18, 2022

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

Home security

5 steps to ensure your home is secure and protected

As part of National Home Security Month 2022, Kenny McHugh, the National Manager for Secured by Design, looks at some simple steps that everyone can take to keep their home safe – tips that security professionals can share with their own customers to highlight the measures available.


Kenny McHugh, National Manager for Secured by Design

1) Visible deterrent

The first thing I recommend is that homeowners consider security through the eyes of an opportunistic criminal, who is likely to walk on by if the risks of being seen and heard are too great. A visible deterrent gives criminals the first indication that there is an awareness around security.

This is as simple as having well maintained walls, fences and hedges at the front. They should be a maximum of one metre in height, to maximise surveillance and minimise hiding places to ensure criminals are on view from both the home and street.

Alternatively, railings or picket fencing can be used. Hedges, trees and bushes should be regularly cut back. As a general recommendation, shrubs should be selected to have a mature growth height no higher than one metre, and trees should have no foliage or lower branches below two metres.

At the rear and sides of a home, taller boundaries are recommended, with fencing at a minimum height of 1.8 metres and topped with 0.3 metres of trellis to make climbing over more difficult.

Side gates should be a minimum of 1.8 metre high, robust and capable of being locked. Use prickly plants, such as pyracantha or climbing roses, to protect fencing, easily accessible windows and drainpipes.

2) External lighting

Remember with the nights starting to draw in it is important that there is lighting around the property. At the front of a property look to have a light that automatically comes on at dusk and switches of at dawn. Energy efficient LED bulbs are the most energy efficient and they give off a good white light.

At the side and rear of the property switched lights can be installed (one you switch off and on as you need it) or one that is automatically activated by heat or a motion sensor, commonly referred to as ‘PIR lights’. A local professional installer can support in specification and installation. Just a wee note of caution, when doing any alterations or additions, think about light pollution and is this going to impact on my neighbours?

Gravel driveways or pathways can also be attractive and help hear the noise of approaching footsteps.

3) Pay attention to the peripherals

HomeSecurity-Lock-22It is important for buildings of all types to be physically secure to deter criminal activity and reduce crime, and this includes sheds and outbuildings. People often pay less attention to garages, sheds and other outbuildings, however, these are vulnerable as they are generally not very secure and also contain expensive equipment and tools with which a burglar can use to assist them to gain entry into a home.

Homeowners should therefore ensure that all external outbuilding doors are of solid construction with suitable locks or a close shackle padlock and lock bar fitted to it. Consider fitting non-returnable screws or coach bolts to the hinges. There are external containers available which are designed for the secure storage of mopeds, scooters, motorcycles or bicycles and other property which have attained Police Preferred Specification.

Locks should be fitted to all outbuilding windows and ideally a shed should have no windows.

Garage doors can be vulnerable and can be made more secure by installing additional security, such as padlocks, to provide multiple locking points or using floor-mounted locking T-bars.

If there is a door connecting the garage to the house make sure this has the same level of security as the front door, with locks that meet BS 3621, or fitting a door that has achieved Police Preferred Specification. Whilst it’s great to get the right lock, if the door is worn out or badly maintained then you should be replacing the entire doorset.

Do not forget that ladders and tools left outside can be used to assist burglars to break into a home. Ensure they are well secured, or alternatively stored in a garage or shed.

What is Police Preferred Specification?

Now throughout this article I have made reference to Police Preferred Specification. Here at Secured by Design we work with security manufacturers, the construction industry and standards authorities to ensure that security standards are current and updated to keep pace with emerging crime trends. Our Police Preferred Specification product-based accreditation scheme has been operating for over 20 years and provides a recognised standard for all security products that are sufficiently robust to resist physical attack by casual and opportunistic burglars – it is the only way security products can attain police recognition.

There are currently many hundreds of companies producing thousands of attack resistant crime prevention products which have achieved Police Preferred Specification. Academic research has shown repeatedly over the last 20 years that these accredited, quality products have reduced burglary where they have been installed.

The Secured by Design website also has a page which explains the different security standards for all manner of products.

4) Using specified and accredited products

We advise that doorsets – door, frame, locks, fittings and glazing – which allow direct access to a home achieve our high security standard, Police Preferred Specification.

Easily accessible windows, including easily accessible roof lights and roof windows, should also meet Police Preferred Specification standards. Both door and window frames must be securely fixed to the building fabric in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications.

Even the most secure doors are vulnerable if we don’t lock them – even when we are at home, lock your doors and windows. Always keep keys to hand should we need to exit quickly for whatever reason.

If you have decided your property would benefit from an alarm system, you should ensure that you use a reputable alarm company. To obtain information on reputable companies who supply and install security systems in your area, I recommend contacting the following Independent Inspectorate Bodies who will be able to supply you with these details – the NSI (National Security Inspectorate) or the SSAIB (Security Systems & Alarm Inspection Board).

Both Inspectorates have search functions on their websites to help find an appropriate installer and having an alarm system certified by one of the accredited independent Inspectorate Bodies will ensure a reliable and well-maintained system that meets relevant British and European standards and which could result in lower insurance premiums.

When having an alarm fitted, check that the installer is a Secured by Design accredited installer – Secured by Design alarm standard will ensure a high-quality alarm system and give enhanced levels of reassurance that the alarm installation company meets the exacting standards of the Police Service.

5) Consider protection inside the building

Good-quality doors, windows and locks are excellent deterrents, but there’s even more that can be done to stop burglars in their tracks and protect your valuables. Whenever they are not being used, store valuables such as passports, credit cards, identification documents and jewellery in a safe that complies with BS EN1143 standards to the appropriate grade. A safe needs to be placed somewhere discreet where it can’t be easily discovered – ideally in an alarmed part of the house – and bolted to a wall or floor.

Property marking makes it easier for the police to trace and recover possessions. Register with a Secured by Design accredited property marking system to assign valuables their own unique code, allowing them to be traced back – this includes for valuable tools and bikes that are stored in outbuildings and garages.

Register your valuables free of charge using a police recognised database. Keep documents, such as receipts, so you can prove ownership. Take photos of all valuable items, including antiques and family heirlooms, which are particularly attractive to criminals.

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