Anti-social behaviour and criminal activity are a major cause of disruption to schools and other educational buildings. Not only do they cause damage to property, they can also cause physical and mental damage to those who use the building. Worst of all, vandalism, crime and threatening activity generates fear amongst staff and students which can make the building an uncomfortable place to be.

The Truth about Crime in Schools

These days the majority of schools ensure that stringent security measures are put in place to protect their premises and statistically, crime in and around schools has reduced. However, some types of crime, such as arson, are on the increase.

When it comes to building design, architects and consultants should spend time ensuring that the highest level of security is factored into the design of a building from the outset and not retrofitted. For example the majority of school new builds over the last decade have incorporated perimeter fencing into their design, rather than tacking on palisade fencing as an afterthought, which can often end up giving a fortress-like impression.

At the beginning of any build, planners, architects and consultants should meet to discuss the security needs of the building and a ‘Crime Impact Statement’ should be prepared establishing the major security risks to the building and how security features will be incorporated to address these risks.

Below is a list of the most common environmental security issues which should be considered during any new school build.

  • Limit pedestrian and vehicle access points
  • Provide a substantial secure boundary
  • Provide substantial gates and fences
  • Apply to remove public rights of way on the site
  • Ensure the main access route is easy to control and monitor
  • Utilise a simple building shell to avoid creating hiding places
  • Consider CCTV surveillance for open spaces like car parks or playgrounds
  • Avoid placing security fences near roofs and avoid creating easy places to climb
  • Incorporate energy efficient security lighting
  • Provide an intruder alarm system
  • Incorporate secure areas where valuable items can be stored
  • Incorporate security shutters on windows and within the building interior

By giving sufficient consideration to this type of physical security, consultants and architects can ensure they create school buildings that project the right image and deterrents to potential criminals and are a safe and secure place to be for staff and students.