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Surgery Security [Hardfacts]


In recent years the trend for larger GP practices, coupled with the wider use of computers, has increased the attraction of such premises to thieves. GP surgeries may also prove attractive to thieves because of drug storage or dispensing, the latter often indicating that cash may be present.

This Hardfacts outlines a range of general precautions that can be taken at GP's and other surgery premises, e.g. vets and dentists. More detailed information on particular topics is available in other Hardfacts information sheets.

Premises Security - Physical

The physical security of your building perimeter is an obvious area for attention. ‘Hardfacts' Door & Window Security provides further information, but in general consider:


All premises will have at least one perimeter door, which, if you are in shared building, may not be to outside but from your portion into a shared or common area. In any event consider:


Doors and frames should be in good condition, of good fit and well secured to the building structure. Glazing should be well secured i.e. no loose or perished putty and beading.


Timber doors should be of 'external grade' (a min thickness of 45mm/1 ¾ '') with hardwood doors generally stronger than softwood. For PVCu or metal doors, especially if glazed, the manufacturer's intended use should be observed. Weaker doors, or areas e.g. panels or glazing, can usually be improved by adding secondary plywood panels, steel sheet, bars, grilles or mesh.

Door Hanging

Inward opening doors can be improved by fitting a second lock, outward opening ones by fitting two hinge bolts.


If the glass installed is toughened (despite its name, a safety not security material), security can be improved and still meet safety requirements, by replacing it with laminated glass.

Our ' Security Glazing' Hardfacts provides further information.

Locks and Padlocks

A huge range of door locks and padlocks are available, but in general for hinged single leaf doors consider:

  • Timber doors - a lock certified as meeting BS3621
  • Metal doors - a pin cylinder operated mortise swing (MS) lock is common, but security is often improved by fitting the door frame with a reinforced striking box and ensuing the cylinder lock, if of the 'Euro' profile type, is snap resistant 
  • PVCu doors - a 5 pin cylinder lock securing a system of (at least) 3 moving bolts provides reasonable security, but if the cylinder lock is of the 'Euro' profile type, check it is snap resistant 
  • Any padlock should be a closed (rather than open) shackle type securing a heavy-duty padbar (not a light hasp and staple)

Hinged Double Doors

These are usually adequately secured by:

  • The 1st leaf being secured at top and bottom by rebate bolts, key operated mortice rack bolts or surface mounted key lockable bolts
  • The 2nd leaf  being secured as per a hinged single leaf door

Emergency (Fire) 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 (see below*) 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.

*Detailed advice on this topic is available in a document published (as a free download) by The RISCAuthority see


Most premises will have perimeter windows, so consider:

Condition and Glazing

The points mentioned for doors also apply to windows.


All accessible opening windows should be fitted with key lockable handles/window locks. Accessible windows are generally regarded as those that may easily be reached from the ground or adjacent single storey roofs, walls, ledges and large drain or soil pipes.

Fixed Barriers

Forced entry through windows can be greatly hindered by the installation of steel bars or grilles. These can be made to many designs, and it is wise to contact your insurers for advice before proceeding.


Roller shutters/grilles are a good form of protection to windows, or for that matter doors or a whole shop front.

Insurers Minimum Security Requirements

When insurance is sought against theft its provision may be conditional upon the premises providing a certain level of physical security, often termed ‘Minimum Security Requirements' (MSR's). MSR's 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.

Other Security Measures

Security is often dependant upon more than just door/window locks. For example:

Site Occupancy

Maintain good relations with occupiers of any adjacent living accommodation, and ask them to contact you in the event of seeing anything amiss.


Lights left on within premises can aid natural surveillance by the public/police. Lights left on outside premises or activated by sensors will deter entry to yards, alleys or doorways.

Staff Procedures

The effectiveness of most security measures depend upon those charged with using them, so make sure staff understand the reasons for, and correct operation of, all your security measures

Other matters that may be worthy of attention include:

  • Electronic security
  • Target item security

Premises Security - Electronic

Given time and sufficient motivation to enter, almost any physical security measure can be overcome. With this in mind measures to deter and detect intruders by electronic means can be a very useful, for example;

Intruder Alarms

An audible alarm with at least one high level external sounder can act as a deterrent to forced entry and otherwise limit the time an intruder would be prepared to stay in the premises.

However, it is preferable for an alarm to be connected to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC),
whose operators can notify premises keyholders and, for qualifying systems the Police, in the event of alarm activations.

If fitting an alarm the use of suppliers with NSI/SSAIB approval is advised, as this will ensure the alarm is installed, maintained and monitored to appropriate technical standards.

‘Hardfacts' Intruder Alarms - Guidelines for Purchasers provides further information.


CCTV systems range from simple internal systems, e.g. viewing and recording activity in strategic areas, to remote monitored or local authority manned town/shopping centre systems.

Internal CCTV systems can help deter or capture evidence of theft, robbery, acts of vandalism or aggression, etc.

Monitored external systems can help capture thieves in action. If you wish to rely on a system run by a third party, e.g. landlord or council, you should carefully check the coverage and operation of the scheme e.g. you may find cameras only cover part of you premises.

If fitting a CCTV system the use of suppliers with NSI/SSAIB approval is advised.

‘Hardfacts' CCTV Systems - Guidelines for Purchasers provides further information.

Access Control

Areas that house theft attractive items or confidential information should be protected against ‘walk in' theft by being kept locked. Where that proves impractical, electronic access control locks and intercoms can help control access. Access control can reduce theft risks and also help protect staff from assault or intimidation, especially where they may be working late or in reduced numbers.

Security of Target Items

In addition to the foregoing, measures to specifically protect items often targeted by thieves can usefully be considered. In this regard a useful general precaution is to create an ‘inner perimeter' at or around rooms or areas housing theft attractive items. This inner perimeter can then be provided with enhanced physical and/or electronic security. In addition, measures to specifically protect items commonly targeted by thieves should be considered, as follows:


Drugs likely to be attractive to criminals should, as a minimum, be kept within a locked drugs cabinet, or fridge within a locked room; but ideally in a suitable security safe.


Cash is uniquely attractive to thieves, so:

  • If possible, cash should not be left at surgeries outside business hours
  • For cash left at the premises install a safe. Safe manufacturers will usually suggest a ‘Grade' and/or a related cash limit for their safes, ideally certified by an independent test body. But in any event, the insurable limit should always be checked with any interested insurer.

Our range of ‘Hardfacts' Cash Security provides further information.


Whether owned by the surgery or an outside body, e.g. a PCT or PFI group, computer security should be of concern to the users. Consider:

  • Attraction to thieves can be reduced, or the chances of police tracing and recovering stolen items increased, by overt or covert security marking to indicate ownership. Various marking products exists, ranging from simple chemical etching of your name and postcode to the use of forensic marking compounds, such as those supplied by Smartwater, SelectaDNA or Redweb. Once done display notices/window stickers to advertise items as marked.
  • Locating critical computers/servers in locked rooms or secure them in place with steel cables (cable ties) or security enclosures/cages (entrapment devices).
  • Not leaving laptops unattended. At close of business take them home or place them in a proprietary laptop safe.

Our 'Hardfacts' Computer Security provides further information.


Whether held in paper or electronic form, you have a duty under the Data Protection Act to register such record holding with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and should then take suitable steps to protect confidential records, for example:

  • For paper records - have a locked room or lockable filing cabinets/rack storage systems, or both
  •  For electronic records - have the main computer or file server holding them physically secured in place. Computers should also be provided with suitable password/encryption protection and have up to date virus/hacking protection.

Key Action Points

  • Assess security risks and consider the adequacy of current security measures
  • Check whether any insurer MSR's apply, and if so that you either do comply, or that you have their agreement for any alternative arrangements
  • Use suitably accredited and competent providers for locks/safes, intruder alarm or CCTV system work. For example companies listed by the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
  • Ensure personnel receive adequate initial and ongoing security training
  • By way of deterrent, display suitable signs advertising/warning of security measures
  • Ask your police crime reduction officer for advice
  • Seek your insurance company's approval or advice over proposed security changes, and otherwise ensure that any insurer's security conditions are observed
  • Review security after any loss, if you fail to do so you are at high risk of a repeat incident

Sources of Further Information

Other Hardfacts in the Property Protection - Security Series, which are available in our ‘Knowledge Store' at

Master Locksmiths Association. Tel 01327 262255 or visit

National Security Inspectorate (NSI). Tel 01628 637512 or visit

Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). Tel 0191 296 3242 or visit

LPCB (For computer entrapment suppliers) Tel 01923 664100 or

The RISCAuthority (the UK insurers' technical advice body). visit

Selectamark Ltd. Tel 0800 328 6268 or see

Your local police Crime Prevention Unit.

European Certification Board - Safes (ECB-S). See

Information Commissioner's Office. Tel 01625 545700 or see

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Please Note
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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