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It is estimated that domestic burglaries cost the nation £2.9 billion annually, however, it is not just the monetary consequence of crime, but also the environmental impact that is driving legislative reform. Analysis of high crime areas shows that repeat incidents account for the greatest proportion of crimes, with specific homes and areas being targeted repeatedly. Statistics also show that it is often the most vulnerable members of the community who suffer the most and are least able to recover from the effects of crime.

The extent to which residential design can impact upon crime is well evidenced. Introducing best practice that will improve the security of the building itself, its boundary and the overall development layout can all assist in deterring offenders by reducing vulnerable points of entry and minimising opportunistic crimes.

Much has been achieved to recognise this within the UK, with national and local planning policy key goals from both Westminster and the devolved governing bodies, now forming a key part of the National Policy Planning Framework. Secured by Design (SBD) has been working in partnership with governments and assemblies throughout the United Kingdom to incorporate the principles of designing out crime within strategic policy and planning guidance documents.

Secured by Design is a national Police initiative that has achieved significant reductions in crime by applying Police approved physical security and promoting security best practice design principles. SBD advisors work locally with the specification, design and build teams of new developments and those undertaking property refurbishment to encourage them to adopt effective crime prevention measures. These range from physical security, in the form of suitably tested and certificated doors, windows and roof-lights, to the design and layout of the building and site.

In addition to its Awards Schemes and Accreditation of products that have been tested and certificated to industry standards, the SBD initiative also provides interactive on-line tool-kits, design guides and reference documents for building professionals.

Incorporating best practice principles from the ground up

Developing a comprehensive approach to designing out crime in domestic dwellings addresses the need and importance for a safe environment that is secured in three ways:

  • Natural surveillance
  • Defensible space
  • Physical security

Whether it is a new development or refurbishment project, key areas for consideration are:

  • Development layout and design

Aspects of design and layout impacting on the creation of a safe and secure environment are most robust when considered from the planning stage onwards. However, security requirements need to be balanced alongside other objectives for successful communities, such as that the measures incorporated are appropriate to the site, taking into account local crime patterns and the type of development. A key objective is to avoid an oppressive appearance and to ensure discreet but effective security through well-designed elements, including paths and through routes, communal and private spaces, boundaries, lighting, and so on.

  • Physical security of the home

Doors and windows, which include roof-lights, are the most used access points by burglars, with locks providing the key focus for forced entry. In addition to these key areas, consideration needs to be given to ancillary security requirements of features such as bicycle storage, drying rooms, external bin stores, sheds, etc.

  • Product specification

Choosing the right product is vital. Fortunately, a wide range of products is available to help improve security and maintain high levels of safety without compromising aesthetics or increasing costs.

Currently the SBD membership scheme includes more than 500 companies whose products have been awarded the ‘Police Preferred Specification’ status covering thirty categories of security products including doors, locks, windows, fencing, asset marking, and many more. The SBD membership scheme recognises products that have not only been tested to relevant security standards but, crucially, are also fully certificated by an independent third party accredited by UKAS.

Independent certification is important to ensure continuity of production through ongoing auditing, which ensures continuity of production and the delivery on site of a more secure and reliable product.

Secured by Design attributes the use of products that are independently certificated to recognised security standards as having been responsible for the consistently high reductions in crime that have been achieved, as verified by numerous independent academic research studies.

In order to ensure that the products do meet at least the legal standard, it is recommended that specifiers request evidence of testing, and ensure that the product supplied is contained within that document. In addition, fully certified products (to PAS24 or equivalent) will be permanently marked to demonstrate their compliance.

Products that have been checked and licensed by SBD or have been certified to the relevant standard by an independent third-party certification authority are required to display permanent marking to that effect, making visual confirmation relatively easy. Additionally SBD provides information online of standards that products have been certificated to, where accredited by the scheme. (All the products listed on the SBD website have been tested and certificated to the relevant standards).

Cost is often a concern when incorporating additional measures into project schemes to comply with industry standards and recommended guidelines. The latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), however, report that the additional costs of providing physical security measures to DCLG standards, for example, can be achieved for be as little as £40 to £100.

Simplifying the process for developers

Secured by Design (SBD) is evolving to meet newly emerging requirements. A new scheme called SBD National Building Approval (SBD NBA) was recently launched. The scheme seeks to streamline the procurement process and entrench good practice by agreeing all aspects of physical security within proposed projects before any development or refurbishment scheme is planned or built.

The SBD NBA certificate issued under the agreement is accepted by Local Authority Building Officers and Approved Inspectors and can be used to discharge regulatory requirements, as well as obligations placed upon developers by third parties, to gain required approvals. This scheme offers the potential to achieve significant savings in time and costs through reduced administration.

Whether you are a developer building multiple units, or a self-builder working on one project, it is important to include security planning and good environmental design from the planning stages. Not only to satisfy legal requirements, but to create secure spaces that discourage crime and other types of anti-social behaviour.

Good design and the installation of products that meet recognized security standards have been academically proven to reduce burglary by up to 75%. Through early coordination with and guidance of other built environment professionals involved in the build and refurbishment process, there is a real opportunity to reduce crime and create safer communities that make for more desirable places to live.

Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative, works with Police Forces around the UK, and many other organisations, to achieve sustainable reductions in crime to help people live in a safer society. Their partners include National and Local Government, British and European standards authorities, trade associations, the construction industry and manufacturers.

Why their Police Preferred Specification is so important

The reason they work closely with manufacturers and companies is to encourage them to provide robust, quality products that can achieve their Police Preferred Specification award, which recognises that their minimum standards have been met to help keep buildings secure.

This standard requires certification from a UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited independent third-party certification authority. This involves regular production audits and re-testing to ensure consistent quality over time and goes beyond the one-off testing required by Part Q of the Building Regulations, England, which became effective from October 2015.

They have nearly 600 member companies, many of them leaders in their specialist fields and many operating in European and global marketplaces. SBD is the only way for companies to obtain Police accreditation in the UK. All their member companies are listed on their website.

What they have achieved for residents

Over the last 28 years, tens of thousands of residents have moved into SBD new homes and continue to benefit from their high standards of security. Independent research shows that SBD developments that include their crime prevention techniques in the built environment and their accredited products in buildings can reduce crimes like burglary by up to 75% in new-build homes and up to 63% in refurbishments.

Evidence suggests these figures are sustainable year-on-year and represent a significant reduction especially as most SBD developments are in social housing, many of which are in deprived areas.

Adapting to changing criminal behaviour

They have built up a wealth of experience over nearly 30 years of promoting increased levels of crime prevention and security through active involvement in local communities – constantly adapting our advice to keep pace with changing patterns of criminal behaviour. This knowledge and practical guidance, which is provided at the planning stage, before building begins, has been captured in a series of building guides, such as SBD Homes and SBD Commercial, which are available on their website. They also have a great deal of information on ways that homes and businesses can improve their security. All this information is available on their website.

How they are administered

They are part of Police Crime Prevention Initiatives, which owns and operates the trading entity Secured by Design (SBD) on behalf of the Police Services of the United Kingdom. Police Crime Prevention Initiatives Board members include two Chief Constables, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Crime Prevention Lead, two Assistant Chief Constables, an Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, and a former Assistant Chief Constable for Sussex.