Staying safe & secure

Secured by Design (SBD)’s Emma Snow explains the benefits of the police- backed product certification system, and gives some tips on how you can ensure your home is as secure as possible

Secured by Design (SBD) is the national police crime prevention initiative. Over the last 30 years, SBD has worked with national and local government, the police service, the building and construction industry, manufacturers and standards authorities to introduce crime prevention measures and techniques to the physical security of buildings and their layout and landscaping, to deter and reduce crime.

However, you may not be aware that the initiative’s principles for designing out crime are just as relevant to the individual home builder and home improver as they are for large multi- home developers. The SBD Self Build 2019 Design Guide provides a wealth of useful information and guidance to make your home safe and secure without adopting ‘fortress’ type crime prevention solutions.

The housing boom of the 1960s, 70s and 80s led to homes being built quickly and cheaply, often without any basic security. A sharp rise in burglary resulted. To combat this, the police service set up SBD in 1989 to incorporate crime prevention into the built environment.

SBD requires security-related products to be sufficiently robust to withstand attack from an opportunistic criminal, and therefore capable of deterring and reducing crime. Better quality means products last longer too.

More than one million new homes have been built to SBD’s crime prevention standards with the latest research studies showing reductions in crime of up to 87 per cent every year compared to non-SBD developments.

Security standards

SBD requires products to be security tested and certified in order to meet its Police Preferred Specification standard. This is important because testing alone means that a door or window may have been security tested just once, some years ago.

Products that have been security tested and certified by an independent, third-party certification body accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) will be required to have ongoing re-testing of the product and inspections of the manufacturer’s production facility. This means the correct processes, product quality and performance are maintained at the highest levels to the present day.

Companies that achieve Police Preferred Specification can become a member company and use the SBD logo for sales and marketing purposes. SBD currently has more than 800 member companies with 5,000 products in over 30 different crime categories including doors, windows, external storage, bicycle and motorcycle security, locks and hardware, asset marking, alarms, CCTV and many others.

SBD believes certification, especially for products like doors and windows, has been a significant contributor to a 64 per cent fall in property crime in England and Wales between 1995-2014/15 (source: Office of National Statistics).

Helping you meet building regulations

The SBD Self Build Guide 2019 applies to creating a home for your own occupation, whether it’s a new or refurbished scheme. Building in accordance with the Guide will help you to discharge the security conditions and requirements of the planning authorities and building control professionals across England, Scotland and Wales who will seek to establish that relevant legislation has been met. You are also encouraged to apply for the Secured by Design Self Build Award certificate to evidence that you have met your formal planning obligations.

Putting the guide to work

SBD suggests you consider your project through the eyes of an opportunistic criminal – they are likely to ‘walk on by’ if the risks of being seen and heard are too great. Let’s start with your boundaries and work inwards towards the main residence using some of the points highlighted in the Guide.

Outside your property

Vehicle and pedestrian routes to your home should be designed to ensure they are visually open and direct. A change in the colour or texture of the road surface or brick piers could mark the point where private ownership commences – making it more difficult for an intruder to justify their presence.

Walls, fences and hedges at the front need to be kept to one metre or less in height to maximise surveillance and minimise hiding places to ensure criminals are on view from the home and street. Alternatively, railings or picket fencing could be used.

At the rear and sides of your home, taller boundaries are recommended. Install 1.8 metre high fencing and top it with 0.3 metres of trellis to make climbing more difficult.

Side gates should be 1.8 metre high, robust and capable of being locked. They should be installed to the front of the building line. Use prickly plants, such as pyracantha or climbing roses, to protect fencing, easily accessible windows, and drainpipes.

Gravel driveways or pathways can be attractive and help you hear the crunch of approaching footsteps. Strategically placed solar globe lights will provide low-level illumination at night as well as sculptural interest to borders. Low voltage dusk to dawn external lighting will provide added security.

Your physical building security

SBD requires doorsets – door, frame, locks, fittings and glazing – which allow direct access into the home to achieve Police Preferred Specification.

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

Garage doors can also be certificated to meet standards, or they may be considered satisfactory if an external ‘garage door defender’ type security product is fitted.

External containers designed for the secure storage of mopeds, scooters, motorcycles or bicycles and other property must also attain Police Preferred Specification for a Self Build Guide Award to be made. If you choose to store these vehicles in a shed, they must be secured to a security anchor, which too must meet our requirements.

All member companies and their products that have achieved Police Preferred Specification, are listed on the website.

Consult your local officer

SBD also recommends you consult your local SBD trained Designing Out Crime Officer (DOCO), who works for your local police force. The DOCO will be able to advise you from the outset and provide additional site specific information, and their service is free.

Homes 2019 guide

If you are building your own home, refurbishing or developing a portfolio of homes to sell or rent you should also refer to the SBD Homes 2019 Guide.

SBD has a permanent display in the professional services hub at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon. The website also contains lots of useful information.

Emma Snow is development officer at Secured by Design