Security in Schools

Security in Schools

Security in schools has been an issue that has been around ever since the modern schoolroom came into being. As society has hurtled toward a world controlled and utilised by technology, new security issues and standards have developed.

School security is unique in several ways. It serves not only to keep unwanted visitors out but also to keep staff and students safe inside the school building. Security in schools has never been as important as it is now.

The security of school premises is an important part of ensuring the personal safety of staff, pupils and visitors. Different schools will experience different security needs but overall their requirements will be similar as common issues affect all education establishments.

“More than 30,000 alleged crimes linked to schools were reported to police in 2014, a BBC investigation has found.”
Source: BBC: School crime reports topped 30,000 in 2014

No education establishment can afford to ignore the threat of crime. Assaults on pupils and teachers in schools are increasing in number. Usually, the assailant is a pupil or parent, but there have been incidents of intruders breaking into schools to attack staff or pupils. While such incidents are uncommon occurrences, the consequences to those involved can be devastating.

Crimes Reported in Schools

School Crime Statistics 2016 – 2017

  • Students aged between 12-18 experienced 749,400 victimisations (theft and nonfatal violent victimisation) at school and 601,300 victimisations away from school.
  • In 2016, the rate of total victimisation at school was higher for males (38 victimizations per 1,000 male students) than for females (20 per 1,000 female students).
  • During the 2015-16 school year, the percentage of public schools that reported student bullying occurred at least once a week was higher for middle schools (22%) than for high schools (15%), combined schools (11%), and primary schools (8%).
  • The percentage of public schools that had a plan in place for procedures to be performed in the event of a shooting increased over time, from 79% in 2003-04 to 92% in 2015-16.

Source: Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2017

 

School Crime Statistics 2014

Throughout 2014, there were 30,394 reported incidents of crime in primary schools, secondary schools and further education (excl. universities).

Chart showing the crime in schools during 2014

Data from the above pie chart

Crime Category Total Percentage
Theft, burglary or robbery 13,003 43%
Violent crime 9,319 31%
Criminal damage or arson 4,106 14%
Drugs offences 754 12%

 

How can you improve security in schools?

Secure access to the School premises

It would seem sensible that anyone should be able to get into the school, but in reality, there should be physical security around the premises. A bogus visitor can approach a school office pretending to be a parent or new parent in order to enter the premises and steal school property.

By installing barriers and gates, it allows teachers access to the car park and then into the building when they arrive or leave the school premises. This is particularly effective in supporting extracurricular activities when only a small group of teachers and students remain behind. This prevents the issue of a single keyholder having to be present all times and security can be monitored.

Record incidents with CCTV Cameras

CCTV performs a vital function both within the school’s buildings and outside in its grounds. The first core function is deterrence. It is remarkable how much better people behave when they know they are being watched and this does not only apply to children.

One of the first things an intruder will look for is whether they are going to be caught on camera. Many a crime has been solved by video footage. CCTV is excellent for identifying intruders and in school incidents. Sometimes false allegations will be made against a teacher and CCTV will reveal the truth.

Insurance premiums are lower when insurers know that they can identify the nature of a claim. This is vitally important to schools that have very tight budgets to manage.

When combining CCTV and card key and locking systems, maintaining security becomes much easier. The person providing access can see the person seeking entry and make a judgement to allow access. Combining security measures increases the impact of the security measures in place and will also provide for a calmer and more secure learning environment.

“In total, there were 1,487 crimes with a hate element at or near schools and colleges in the past two academic years, according to data provided by 29 forces.”
Source: Tes: Hate crime in schools up by 62% in a year

Install a fire and burglar alarm

It is the head teachers responsibility to ensure the premises are safe from fire and that all safety regulations are met. This is especially important for secondary schools and universities where science lessons may involve fire.

You also want to make sure that nobody is able to break-in to the premises out of hours, and some schools have their alarm linked to police response. This gives extra peace of mind that should an incident occur, there will be police attendance.

Secure sensitive areas

Master keys can be designed to provide all access or partial access. Senior teachers may be able to access any part of the school, while other members of staff may only be able to access common areas, including the staff room and library and their own departments.

By giving varying levels of access to different parts of the school would help reduce unauthorised access to restricted areas. For example, a school IT manager may be provided with access to the computer suites they are responsible for maintaining and nothing else.

Access security systems also work well to prevent the departure of students from the school or prevent potential kidnappers from leaving the site until police arrive.

 

Security Advice for Head Teachers

Management responsibility for school security is shared between the local education authority (in the case of LEA-maintained schools), the governing body and the headteacher.

  • If your premises has security gates you must ensure they meet with European Standards. There were past cases of children
    getting trapped in automatic gates so additional safety measures are in force
  • All staff appreciate the importance of security and understand the school’s policy and their own responsibilities
  • Staff training needs are kept under review and training arranged as necessary
  • Parents are informed of the security policy and encouraged to help
  • Regular reports are made to the governing body and, where appropriate, the LEA
  • Advice is obtained from the police, mechanisms are in place for continuing liaison with the police (eg, on local crime
    patterns) and there is an agreed method of contacting the police in the event of an emergency
  • Ensure all crimes are reported to the police
  • There are more regular routine security checks

Security Advice for Teachers

  • Protect pupils from hazards that may exist
  • Guard against assault between students
  • Safeguard school property from vandalism
  • Contact the police when necessary to report incidents
  • Implement the school’s emergency plan
  • Be vigilant so you can assess issues between students

Security Advice for Parents

  • Keep informed of the school policies in regards bullying and school safety
  • If you are visiting the school, ensure you have photo ID available to prove who you are
  • Report any incidents to the school

Security Advice for School Visitors

  • If you are visiting the school, ensure you have photo ID available to prove who you are
  • Ensure you wear a visitors badge and you sign-in when working on-site (if applicable)
  • Keep tools out of reach or ensure they are monitored

Further Reading about security in schools


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