By Leon Harris CPP
Published in INsite, October/November 2001
This article aims to create awareness of potential security and safety issues within a facility that can often be overlooked by architects and facility operators. Crime prevention strategies should be applied to the interior, as well as the exterior, of a new or refurbished facility. Some of the following crime prevention examples can be applied as part of the continuous improvement program that is outside of any construction or refurbishment project.
The following are a few examples:
The reception/foyer area should have a clear and uninterrupted ‘line of site’ of entry doors. This is a deterrent because an intruder realises the chance of them being observed and challenged is greatly increased. However, a common problem is when the reception area is unattended by staff. Management should consider realigning human and technical resources to meet the risks.
Our reviews often identify support rooms (e.g. cleaners, laundry, store rooms) and clean utility rooms left open or unlocked. This provides the opportunity for an intruder to enter to hide or steal. There are also additional concerns with visitors (including children) and residents entering and suffering a possible injury. To reduce these potential risks, rooms should be kept locked when not used. Written lock-up procedures should be established which are relevant to all shifts and included in staff induction and training programs.
This approach will also decrease the search time and area for a ‘missing’ resident or other emergency, e.g. a telephone bomb threat. Ideally, doors should be fitted with self locking door hardware that requires a key to open, but not lock and is capable of emergency egress. If mechanical keys are used, they should be part of a Master Keying system. The downside of mechanical keys is their potential for loss, misuse and degraded control. In the past few years, technology has been continually improved eliminating the need for mechanical keys whilst increasing control and long term savings from not having to replace keys or locks, e.g. smart cards, proximity cards, etc.
Most standard locking hardware supplied with windows would not deter or delay a criminal from forcing a window open or preventing its removal. Neither would the common practice of placing a piece of wooden dowel in a track with the intention of restricting the opening distance of a window. If sliding windows are, or will be, installed the installation of key locks will greatly reduce the potential for windows to be used as a point of entry by criminals. A similar approach is required for other styles of windows.
External Service Doors
It is important to identify any accessible external locations out of the immediate view of staff where a resident may enter and become disorientated or anxious. These areas should have restricted access with a lockable door or gate. This is particularly important and helpful in the event of a night search. It will also assist in preventing criminal or anti-social behaviour.
Void Spaces Under Buildings
Any opportunity to ‘design out’ recesses or potential hidden spaces around, between or below buildings should be undertaken. Material such as glass bricks, strong timber lattice or similar should be considered to limit unauthorised access (or hiding) into these areas if it cannot be designed out.
Including these examples in your crime prevention approach will help ease concerns and frustration of staff, improve safety and reduce the potential for crime. The above examples are for general information and should not be used as a replacement for a professional security review.
Leon Harris CPP, is the principal consultant for Harris Crime Prevention Services.
Harris Crime Prevention Services provides on an occasional basis articles by other Industry experts, such as: How Airports apply designing out crime principles