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Universal Security Tips For Winter

patrolBeing located on the south coast, Prestige Doors has a wide variety of clients from domestic, rural, commercial, industrial to urban and corporate. Every customer has individual, unique needs but there are always universal truths that every homeowner, estates manager and retail outlet owner should be aware of.

When it comes to security, the appearance of your exterior doors is paramount. If a door looks sturdy, well maintained and brightly lit when anybody approaches after dark, the chances of them taking any further interest are much lower than if a door or shutter seemed to be ignored, decayed, rusted or unsecured.

At this time of year, with the clocks changing and nights getting longer, people are spending less time outdoors, they’re keeping their curtains closed and paying less attention to the goings on in their neighbourhood. The way people are affected by the environment plays a huge part in ambient security, that is, if a building looks secure, well maintained and shows signs that there are people around who are paying attention, then potential intruders are far less interested in making further investigations. When it’s dark, the opportunities for incursion increase, with fewer people around from dusk till dawn, burglars have more time to spend both planning and executing a break-in without being observed.

Throwing A Spotlight On Break-Ins

Security lighting plays its part here. Since observation is such a disincentive to the burglar, ensuring entrances are well lit pays dividends. But, in areas that are out of sight of the street or neighbours, additional lighting still has a part to play even if you don’t have cameras that are constantly monitored. Out of sight is very much in mind when it comes to getting access to your property. If secondary entrances and fire escapes are obscured from general view they are all the more appealing. Doors that look sturdy with visibly solid locks and hinges that are illuminated as soon as anybody approaches are a valuable display of security.

Lighting areas where nobody is watching is equally true for outbuildings, garages and sheds too. If you don’t keep valuable property in your outbuildings then security may not be paramount to you. However, because burglars don’t like to draw attention to themselves they don’t travel around with crowbars and ladders on their shoulders. If they can find them in your shed which isn’t securely locked, they will use them to break into your home.

The Mark Of Good Security

Security marking your property and assets is an effective deterrent too. Most property is stolen to be sold, and unfortunately, people who buy on the black market don’t care where it came from. However, marking your property does make property much harder to sell for a price that makes the theft worthwhile, while also making its return to the owner much easier. Marking property also helps secure convictions.  If thieves are caught with marked property in their possession a reasonable alibi is harder to create, which is another huge disincentive to steal clearly marked goods. Bar coded or addressed asset management stickers are an effective way to permanently mark your property in both work and domestic situations.

Neighbourhood Watch is much maligned as busy-bodies snooping on their neighbours but the system works. A simple sticker in the window that tells people that strangers will be noticed and observed is a simple but effective deterrent. Neighbourhood watches and small businesses should regularly invite their local crime prevention officer to speak to new members and staff. They can look at your current security and advise on basic mistakes, physical improvements and changing habits that could leave your home or workplace vulnerable.

“Preventable Crime” Shouldn’t Take Priority, According to Snr Officer

Loughborough Town Hall

Assistant chief constable for Leicestershire police force, Phil Kay stated in an interview with the Loughborough Echo that “I would far rather my officers were spending their time preventing crime, protecting the public and focusing on other stuff than things that are preventable.”

He made his statement in reference to burglaries that occur when windows and doors are left open, essentially blaming victims of crime for their own stupidity if they make a mistake and fail to properly secure their property.

Kay was speaking specifically about students who had recently moved to the area who often left windows and doors open despite crime prevention officers leafleting both campus and parts of the city with particularly high student accommodation.

He justified his point of view but adding that the NHS wouldn’t operate on someone who was obese, a smoker or heavy drinker.

“If the health service are making decisions on whether someone has helped contribute to prevent something or not, should the police? It is right that we try and stop it but it is right that people take responsibility.”

“If they knew we were not investigating it, they may take notice.” Meaning that residents would be more fastidious about securing their homes in the absence of active policing.

Unfortunately his assertions are nonsensical. The NHS will always intervene when someone’s health is at risk just as it is necessary for the police to investigate any crime, no matter how much the victim is at ‘fault’. And to suggest that these crimes would be overlooked and left without any investigation is absurd and tantamount to a dereliction of duty. Letting crime go unchallenged would turn Loughborough into a wild-west town where the bandits could roam the streets with impunity, victimising people at will because they knew that the police simply didn’t care about crime in the area. It also overlooks the many methods that criminals use to gain access. Well brought up young people will hold the door open to a stranger who looks like they belong, they’ll open the door to people who buzz the entryphone and claim to be visiting a neighbour, they won’t challenge strangers who ‘piggyback’ them when they are entering a building, all tried and tested means of gaining access that don’t depend on windows or doors being left open. When thieves target industrial premises, they often achieve entry using exactly the same techniques, relying on the politeness and cooperative spirit of authorised personnel who assume that people who they don’t know are probably supposed to be there and fail to challenge them appropriately.

It’s not only students he would leave beyond the help of the law. He went on to state, in an interview a couple of days later with the same paper, that according to the recently adopted Cambridge Crime Index:

“All crime is not equal and does not cause the same harm. I think what the public would like us to do, and that’s my experience, they want us to be focused on the harmful crimes. The ones that cause the most harm to them and their families not necessarily on crimes which could be preventable.

“At the moment we spend a lot of time investigating theft from shops and a lot of time collecting CCTV from the theft of shops and very often we find that theft is preventable.

“That does not mean we are not interested, we are still investigating them, it is looking at our demand.”

Naturally, local businesses are as concerned as student representative bodies over Phil Kay’s comments and are worried that they will be receiving a second rate service. David Pagett-Wright, Chairperson of the Loughborough Business Improvement District organisation said:

“We recognise that the police have got limited resources. Shoplifting might feature low down in that list of priorities but it is extremely important for stores concerned, especially the small independents.

“We need to work with the police to make sure there are still ways we can help prevent shoplifting and to also take action against those who commit it.

“We don’t want to be at a stage where they just get away with it.”

Thieves are opportunists and have little or no regard for the law or the consequences of their activities, either to themselves or their victims. There’s no reason to suppose that shoplifters shoplift exclusively or that housebreakers and warehouse burglars only keep to that particular form of crime. They’re only concern is getting what they can as quickly and easily as possible, if they see a chink in your armour, no matter where it is, they will abuse it.

Law abiding citizens have every right to expect that, when they become the victims of crime, they will receive the full backing of the law and not be told “well, it’s sort of your own fault and you were asking for it really.” This kind of victim blaming mentality is unacceptable and potentially leads to some very dark  places if it’s used when looking at crimes against the person.

Powered Gates Are a Current Issue

powered-gateImproperly installed or maintained powered gates can pose a potential health and safety concern. Several deaths and many more injuries have been attributable to powered gates malfunctioning or simply being the wrong barrier for the purpose to which it was applied.

Powered gates are covered by the Supply of Machinery Regulations, but until recently there was much misunderstanding of how the regulations applied to gates as opposed to other types of powered machines. In 2012 the Door Hardware Federation and HSE issued their Guide to Gate Safety, Legislation and Standards.

The current European Standards are thought to be less rigorous as they are more concerned with industrial doors and aren’t designed to cover gates specifically. Regulations and specifications need to concentrate on eliminating the dangers of crush, impact, shear, draw, hooking, structural and electrical injury or defect. Eliminate these dangers and powered gates will be far safer to operate.

Installers and Maintainers are Held Responsible

Two companies involved in the provision of powered gates were prosecuted in 2014 following deaths that occurred in separate incidents over the same weekend in 2010, however, they weren’t the companies that originally fitted the gates but the companies retained to carry out maintenance. Following on from this, any company that is involved in the fitting and follow-up maintenance is extremely aware of the safety issues concerned and will always aim to exceed the requirements put in place by the European Commission and the HSE.

It should also be borne in mind that any company or individual who installs a motor onto a pre-existing powered gate becomes a powered gate provider, and hence will be subject to the legislation, even if they don’t connect it to a power supply. When machinery is CE marked it is usually the manufacturer that has to secure the safety certificates necessary to prove the product’s safety, however, in the case of powered gates it is down to the installer, this is because the device has to be specially measured, aligned and installed according to the site’s specific requirements.

Risk assessment is a vital part of the ongoing maintenance of a powered gate. Your installer or maintenance operative should carry out regular risk assessment and advise the owner of the property that the gate is on of any concerns that their examination reveals.  It is then down to the owners to implement any recommendations that the maintainer identifies as necessary for to continued safe use of the gate. If the gate is found to be unsafe, then it should be disabled by the installer/maintenance inspectors so that it cannot be run automatically or remotely in order to prevent potential accidents from occurring.

Our Top Five Tips For Outstanding Security

image011-1It goes without saying that Prestige Doors are committed to security. Our core business is making sure that your business, or home, is securely shut and that you and your property are safe from intruders.

However, there’s only so much a security shutter or sectional door can do. Security is everybody’s responsibility all of the time. You might have the best security available, but if a member of staff lets in an unauthorised visitor, that investment counts for next to nothing. So what do we recommend as ways to augment and consolidate your security measures?

Training

It’s incredibly easy for intruders to gain access to a building during working hours, particularly in the morning or at the end of the lunch break. Simple manners dictate that we hold the door open for the person behind us and interlopers have been known to take advantage of that and simply follow an employee into the building. Train staff to ALWAYS ask to see ID if it’s not immediately visible. Ensure that they understand that ‘piggybacking’ (gaining access by following a colleague without punching in the security code or using a pass) isn’t acceptable. There are many training manuals and courses available to suit your size of business.

CCTV

Having CCTV cameras is a clear visual deterrent which sends out a clear signal to burglars that you take security seriously. There is one drawback to having incredibly obvious cameras though, they are vulnerable to attack and reveal their own blind spots. We recommend using high quality, robust cameras to cover all main points of access to your buildings, but also using more discreet cameras to cover blind spots, passageways, alleys, car parks and office spaces. Modern digital technology allows you to gather superior quality images even in low lighting conditions and store the data remotely.

Alarm Systems

Again, like CCTV cameras, a visible alarm system will deter burglars and intruders. Silent alarms come highly recommended too, however, these are less affective at preventing break-ins, while they do improve the apprehension of criminals who are caught in the act. Maintenance is incredibly important when it comes to affective alarms. As with the Boy who Cries Wolf, too many false alarms and it will be ignored or worse, become an irritant to your neighbours.

Security Doors

Installing doors that are just too hard to get through without a key or code are the best way of deterring criminals. Burglars like an easy life, which is why they took to crime in the first place. They like to get in and out before they attract too much attention from passers by and the police. Solid shutters create an environment where a great deal of time and effort must be expended on gaining access to the property.

Advice

There’s plenty of help out there, you just have to ask for it. Your local police station will have a Crime Prevention Officer who will be happy to visit your offices, commercial buildings and even your home to give you advice on effective methods of deterring criminals. They will be able to tell you the areas you should be concentrating on. The manufacturers and installers of security systems, cameras, lighting and doors will all be happy to give you a consultation to discuss what you need.

The Rules of Unintended Consequences

John Campbell-Jones (GBR) Reg Parnell Racing Lola Mk4 finished thirteenth and last in his second and final Grand Prix. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 20 July 1963.

Campbell Jones competing in the 1963 Grand Prix

When Personal Security Compromises Public Safety

A housing development in central London has this week had its security doors removed as a consequence of health and safety concerns raised by the Fire Brigade and local council.

Residents of the block had been concerned about the homeless, strangers and potential criminals obtaining access to their property and so installed security doors in the lobby. To anybody this is obviously a wise decision provided that the doors met or exceeded all the requirements for a large building which had numerous residents.

However, the increased sense of security meant that people began to leave property, items such as bikes, prams and pushchairs in the corridors. In fact, so much property was left that the local council deemed it to be a health hazard as it would likely cause an obstruction in the event of an emergency. The council wrote to the residents, yet because of the intransigence of some of the householders, the council was forced into the position where they had to remove the secure doors, meaning that it was no longer possible to leave the obstructions in the passageways.

Safety Compromised by Obstructions

John Campbell Jones, a former F1 driver and resident of the building said: “They spent a lot of money putting all these doors on, which do make people much more secure, and then someone leaves a few things outside and, instead of someone knocking on the doors and telling us, they take the bloody doors off again.”

Residents who did comply with the notice to move their property to a location where it would cause no obstruction were told that it was too late, and because others hadn’t complied, it was now the council’s only option to remove the doors.

The council’s housing chief, Pat Callaghan, said “Items that are stored in lobbies are a fire risk and can physically obstruct and restrict the means of escape from a building, greatly increasing the risk to residents if required to evacuate during a fire.”

Ms Callaghan went on to point out that her council’s Community Safety Team had visited and other security measures had been taken.

Security and Safety

Fitting security doors, fire doors and security shutters will all have not only an appreciable effect on the physical security of your home or business, the psychological effects are marked too. Simply installing solid looking doors and shutters reduces crime and attempted criminal activity. However, no matter how secure you feel, you always need to be aware of this affecting your behaviour. Fire doors need to be kept clear and easy to open from the inside at all times. Internal fire doors in corridors should be kept closed (but unlocked) to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. If internal fire doors are routinely kept open they should be fitted with a door retainer that releases the door automatically if there is a fire and clearly marked that they will close automatically in an emergency.

After a number of recent fires at locations such as nightclubs in the UK, France and US, it’s timely to remind people that no matter what kind of premises you are securing, emergency exits should be clearly marked, kept clear at all times and any staff who work on the premises should know the evacuation procedure.

Some of our Recent Installations

before garageIt’s been a busy couple of weeks for garage door installations here at Prestige Doors. When garage doors get old and worn, they aren’t just unattractive, they’re a safety security risk too, which is why it’s important to have them well maintained.after shutter

Safety and Security

It’s easy to be mistaken into thinking that if you don’t keep a car in the garage, that an old faulty or damaged garage door that is now stuck or hard to open is a positive in relation to security. But consider that in an emergency, the garage could be your quickest means of escape. If the door can’t be opened easily, those minutes could be the difference between a safe escape and tragedy.

garage beforeA well fitted, good looking garage door isn’t just a practical security measure. A really solid looking garage door is going to put potential intruders off before even testing its security. We’ve written before about the power of ‘thinking like a burglar,’ that is thinking critically about your home security and looking out for things you do that would give unwanted strangers a way into your home. Among the things they watch out for is poor maintenance. A poorly kept hedge, a broken fence or an overgrown lawn and especially a ugly old garage door all attract burglars’ attention and increase your chances of becoming a target.garage after

Expert Installation Maintenance and Repair

As well as expert installation, we carry out routine maintenance and we have a 24 hour call out in the event of our doors becoming damaged, either by accident or attempted break-in. This is a service we offer both our domestic and commercial customers so if your business relies on easy access we can be relied upon to make sure there is as little interruption to your business as possible.

It’s impossible to say exactly how long any installation will take as every job is different, however, we aim to carry out all work required as quickly and efficiently as possible. The best way to find out what we have to offer is to call for a quote. We will discuss the best options for you, our maintenance and parts and labour guarantees.