Plan ahead to keep your school safe this summer

The Master Locksmiths Association says that the spring term is the time to review school security

With summer holidays being an opportune time for thieves and vandals to target empty school buildings, The Master Locksmiths Association – the leading trade association for the locksmithing industry – is advising schools to use the spring term to review security, assess for damage to buildings and plan ahead for any necessary work to be undertaken in plenty of time. 

With the summer holidays a time when theft and vandalism incidents can increase, the spring term is the ideal time to check over security and safety – Dr Steffan George, Development Director of the Master Locksmith Association

Development Director of the Master Locksmith Association, Dr Steffan George says: “We know many schools prefer to undertake maintenance work in holiday time. But with the summer holidays a time when theft and vandalism incidents can increase, the spring term is the ideal time to check over security and safety and arrange for any upgrades to be made [in the Easter and May holidays / ahead of the summer].”

With a few simple steps, you can make sure your school will be more secure during the summer months:

  • Look out for deterioration and breakages to doors, windows, roofs (missing tiles, slates and broken roof lights), wall cladding (vertical tiling and timber boarding etc.), and exterior skirts to the base of temporary classrooms.
  • Check that all alarms and locks are in good working order and consider whether the building needs any extra security. If the school doesn’t already have a master key system, consider installing one to ensure that staff only have access to designated areas with the keys provided.
  • Site boundaries are also important. While checking that gates are fitted with suitable locks may be an obvious step, you must check the full perimeter of the site. Fencing should be fully intact with no bolts, hinges, and handles or damaged sections, which could work as footholds for easy access.
  • Planting is another aspect that is often overlooked in terms of security. Large or overgrown trees or shrubbery can provide unnecessary areas of cover for intruders and lead to blind spots on CCTV coverage. It’s especially important to check that this greenery does not cover security fencing as this would provide an easy access route for a potential intruder.
  • Security shutters and grilles are another great way of boosting security. If they are already installed, it’s important to ensure they are operating correctly and fitted with suitable locking devices. MLA-approved locksmiths can advise on this and recommend the most suitable grilles and shutters.
  • Secure storage for valuable equipment within the school building should also be thought about. For example, expensive items such as IT equipment, musical instruments etc. may want to be stored securely in a special room with enhanced security features.

A professional MLA-approved locksmith can carry out a security and safety assessment on all locks and access routes, advising you on suitable fittings. It’s important to ensure that they not only provide a good level of security, but also meet insurance requirements.

Dr Steffan George continued: “Make sure to check the credentials of any locksmith. By using an MLA-approved locksmith you can be confident they are vetted, undergo regular inspections to ensure quality, and employ locksmiths with a recognised exam based proof of competence.” 

Finally, while security is an important consideration in any school, safety is the primary concern. Checks should include verifying the functionality of fire doors, checking emergency exit doors have the correct escape hardware, are working correctly and are not compromised, checking all signage and fire risk assessments are in place and, where necessary, updating fire risk assessments. An MLA approved locksmith can work with you to assist in making sure a building is safe as well as secure in accordance with existing fire regulation. 

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