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Theft is a risk facing nearly all premises, and a suitable level of physical security should therefore be provided to all accessible external doors and windows.
There are many different forms of locks and related British, European and other security test standards, with ‘Hardfacts’ 3018: Locks and Lock Standards providing further information. This Hardfacts therefore provides some general advice on door and window security at typical commercial and domestic premises.
Criminals usually look for the easiest way into premises. With this in mind the general aim should be to provide all doors and windows with a comparable level of physical security, but with variations made having regard to various risk factors, for example:
Door and Window Security - General
There are a number of factors that contribute to good door and window security, for example:
Doors/windows and frames should be in good condition, of good fit, well secured to the building structure and any gaps around the frames filled with mortar or frame sealant (to conceal the frame fixings).
Timber doors/windows should be of external grade- and for doors a min thickness of 45mm (1 ¾ "), noting that hardwood is generally stronger than softwood.
For PVCu or metal doors, especially if glazed, the manufacturer’s intended use should be observed.
Weaker doors/windows, or specific areas of them, can be improved by adding secondary steel sheet facings/linings, or steel bars, grilles or mesh.
Inward opening doors are less resistant to being kicked/barged open than outward opening ones, but can be improved by fitting a second lock, internal bolts or drop in braces.
Outward opening doors are more resistant to being kicked/barged open, as attack force is dissipated into the frame. However, such doors (and windows) can be vulnerable to attacks on their exposed hinges, so make them more resistant to attack by fitting hinge bolts.
Any glazing needs to be well secured i.e. no loose or perished putty/beading. If any glazing is toughened glass (despite its name, a safety not security glass) security can be improved, and still meet safety requirements, by replacing it with laminated glass. ‘Hardfacts’ 3006: Security Glazing and ‘Hardfacts’ 5024: Glazing in the Workplace provide further information.
The effectiveness of any security measure is always dependant upon proper use, so:
Insurer’s Minimum Security Standards
When insurance is sought against theft, its provision may be conditional upon premises having a certain level of physical security, often termed ‘Minimum Security Standard’ (MSS), or maybe Minimum Security Requirement or Condition.
MSS tend to concentrate on the fitting and use of common locks on typical doors and windows and may vary according to the insurer, type of property, e.g. domestic or commercial, or the type of insurance contract. The RISCAuthority, the UK insurer’s technical body has published a useful guide on the subject of MSS at homes - see Sources of Further Information.
Door Security - Locking
Locks typically used on doors vary according to the door type and use. Detailed advice on locks and related standards can be found in the aforementioned RISCAuthority guidance (aimed at homes but much of it of general application), but some general advice follows:
Hinged single leaf doors
These are usually locked as follows:
Hinged double doors
These are usually adequately secured by:
These are usually locked by either a mortice or cylinder ‘hook’ or ‘claw’ lock, cylinder lock and moving bolts or a padlock - all ideally meeting a relevant standard outlined above. Patio style doors should have an anti lift device in the top rail and may benefit from a key operated patio door lock at the base of the centre rail.
Roller shutter/panel doors
These are usually locked by padlocking the internal operating chain in place, or fitting cylinder lock pin bolts through the side runners.
Any wicket gate should be treated as a hinged single leaf door.
Doors not used for entry/exit purposes
Unless used as emergency exit doors, see below, these doors should be locked as above or by lesser locks supplemented by internal bolts (key lockable if adjacent to any glazing), by padlocks or by drop in braces, etc.
Emergency exit doors
These doors are often relatively weak but, subject to strict controls to ensure unlocking at all times when the premises are in use, extra visible security devices, e.g. bolts, or secondary protection may be appropriate. If in doubt seek advice from the fire brigade or your insurers, and always record any such measures in your fire risk assessment.
Note. Detailed advice on this topic is available in a document called 'Security of emergency exit doors in non residential premises' which is available as a free download from The RISCAuthority website.
Detailed advice on this topic is available in a document called ‘Security of emergency exit doors in non residential premises’, which is available as a free download from The RISCAuthority website.
Window Security - Locking
All accessible opening windows should be fitted with key lockable handles or separate window locks. Larger windows, i.e. those with an opening edge greater than 1.2 metres length can be improved by fitting a second lock. Windows not required to open may be screwed shut.
Secondary Door/Window Protection
Where existing doors or windows cannot be readily improved/replaced, the fitting of a secondary barrier may be appropriate, for example:
Consider internal or external lockable steel bar/mesh gates, roller shutters, or internal collapsible (folding) steel grilles.
Consider internal or external steel bars, fixed or removable steel mesh grilles, roller shutters, or internal collapsible (folding) or roller grilles.
Secondary barriers should ideally be certified as meeting a recognised security standard, e.g. a suitable security level of the Loss Prevention Certification Board’s LPS 1175 scheme.
Key Action Steps
Sources of Further Information
Other ‘Hardfacts' in the Property Protection - Security series, which are available in our ‘Knowledge Store' at www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions
Your local police Crime Prevention Unit
Your insurance broker or insurance company
The Glass & Glazing Federation Tel 0870 042 4255 or see www.ggf.org.uk
Master Locksmiths Association (MLA). Tel 01327 262255 or visit www.locksmiths.co.uk
The Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) Tel 01827 52337 or visit http://www.dhfonline.org.uk/
The RISCAuthority (the UK insurers' technical advice body) see www.riscauthority.co.uk
In particular see:-
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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