Securing a school’s perimeter

Fencing, gates and other perimeter security measures in schools continue to face increasing scrutiny.  Not only are Schools under pressure to tighten safeguarding measures to protect pupils and staff during the school day, many need to protect valuable equipment and prevent damage to the site from intruders ‘out of hours’.   With education budgets tightly squeezed, any loss or damage is keenly felt.

In our specialist security work with schools, we’re often asked to survey and advise on the robustness of a site’s perimeter security.  From the questions we’re often asked here are some key considerations to assist your school.

  1. Is fencing still fit for purpose?

Many schools occupy large and often fragmented sites.  As a result gaps in fencing from long-term wear and tear can go unchecked.  It is sensible to establish a regular check of the site’s perimeter fencing to ensure it still deters intruders.  Be on the look-out for any close hanging branches or buildings which can be used to help an intruder climb over fences.  If you do have trees in close proximity to your fence, do check after storms that no fallen branches have caused damage or weakened it.

 

  1. Consider CCTV

CCTV has been proven as a deterrent to intruders and also gives you a valuable source of evidence if a break-in occurs.  CCTV systems can be run off a school’s IP network to minimise the need for cabling and can be programmed to send an alert which pinpoints the exact location of a breach. Some CCTV cameras also come with sirens which can be utilised to send key security alert signals (eg in the case of a lock-down) to remote areas of a site.

  1. Ensure automatic gates comply with latest health and safety standards

Automatic gates in schools tend to come in two varieties:

  • Electronic – Those which are controlled by access passes, intercoms or fobs and then open automatically
  • Manual – Those controlled by access passes, intercoms or fobs which then require a person to push them open

In the case of the first, new health and safety regulations have come into force over recent years.  These have focused on minimising the risk to people and things of getting trapped as the gate opens or closes. Schools are recommended to ensure their gates meet the latest standards.  Do contact our team for a free assessment.

  1. Consider permission-led access control systems and doors

Some access control systems enable you to assign permissions to specific people for access to designated areas, and at certain times.  This can greatly help schools to manage and control who can and can’t access particular areas (such as science and IT labs) during the day and out of hours.  The systems can work with perimeter gates and doors on to the site too.

 

  1. Maintain a regular maintenance programme

Security systems such as intruder alarms, CCTV, access control and gates should receive a regular (annual) maintenance/service visit to ensure they remain fully functional.  Often a school’s insurer and OFSTED will look favourably on a regularly maintained system. With insurers, more competitively priced policies can be obtained as a result.

 

  1. Test your perimeter’s security for different scenarios

If you experience a problem with your school’s perimeter security, you want to be fully prepared to deal with it.  As part of the ongoing risk assessments and scenario planning schools undertake, it is worth factoring in different events involving the perimeter measures.  This will help to flag weaknesses which need to be addressed.  For example in a lock-down situation, do you want perimeter access points to be closed or open to get the intruder out and the emergency services in?  In the event of a fire, how will perimeter measures help or hinder evacuation and/or access for the emergency services?  By undertaking scenario-planning in this way, schools can strengthen their safeguarding and security procedures to factor in specific nuances of their site.

 

Summary

Unfortunately many school premises were built before security became such a concern and so present schools with many logistical issues.  Controlling access on to the site should be a key consideration of a school’s senior management. The key is to ensure perimeter security measures remain fit for purpose and support other safeguarding procedures. This can be achieved by periodic reviews, scenario planning and regular maintenance.

If you would like a free survey of your school’s perimeter security and automatic gate’s compliance with the latest Health and Safety, please contact one of our in-house education experienced surveyors on 01483 791500 or email sales@absolutesecurity.co.uk