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The range of security locks available to prospective purchasers is very wide. As a result, to the non-expert choosing a suitable lock can be daunting prospect – especially with locks often looking similar, but in fact being very different in terms of their security, quality and general reliability.
This Hardfacts describes basic lock types and related British or European standards with which they may comply. ‘Hardfacts’ 3017: Door and Window Security provides some related general advice.
All locks consist of four main parts, the case, the key/locking mechanism, the lock bolt mechanism and its receiving recess. Taking each of these items in turn, the three basic forms of lock case are:
Moving on to lock mechanisms, the two most common key/locking mechanisms are:
All locks have a lock bolt designed to move in and out of the lock case and engage in a suitable recess. Use of hardened steels, or inserts within the bolt, can hinder attack by cutting. A 'deadlocking' lockbolt is one that when it is in the locked position cannot be pushed back into the lock case.
For all locks except padlocks, a lock bolt receiving recess will need to be created. For mortice locks this will be a recess in the door frame (or another door if securing double doors). To protect the edge of this recess from wear, it usually has metal 'flush striking plate' fitted; but ideally, to hinder attack on the bolt once engaged within it, should be fitted with a 'boxed striking plate', i.e. one with an integral steel box to receive the bolt. For rim locks a suitable surface fixed metal housing receives the lockbolt.
UK Lock Standards
The security of a lock cannot reliably be assessed by simply looking at it, so tests that simulate common attack methods and usage are required to help prove its security.
Various European (EN) lock standards exist, those adopted within the UK being given a BSEN prefix. Sometimes called ‘CEN‘ standards these EN Standards are particularly complicated, with compliant locks having an eleven digit code to indicate various product features, only the 7th digit in the sequence usually being used to indicate the security ‘Grade’.
The CEN standards require the code to be shown on the lock packaging, but not the lock itself; and don’t usually require testing against lock picking, sawing or an expert review. As a result of these perceived limitations/weaknesses, CEN standards are infrequently referred to in the UK; except perhaps for padlocks, where there is no comparable British standard.
Of the various UK test standards that can apply to locks, the one most commonly cited by UK insurers over the years has been BS 3621. A few years ago this standard was set to be withdrawn when the UK needed to adopt the European Standards for door locks (EN 12209 and EN 1303), but it was eventually retained by redrafting it to cross refer to a security level within the European Standards and because of a unique UK requirement for a General Vulnerability assessment (GVA) - a further review/testing against possible weaknesses, as determined by a panel of expert locksmiths who study the lock design.
BS 3621 has since evolved into a suite of similar standards known as the x621 Series, which relate to both single point mortice and cylinder rim locks (as BS 3621, 8621 and 10621) and multi-point locks (as PAS 3621, 8621 and 10621). Whether chosen in a BS or PAS version, the respective differences in use are as follows:
Such locks are most commonly identified by their carrying the BSI ‘Kitemark’ on the lock face and packaging.
Note. Most BS 3621 rim locks have an internal lockable handle, which can be used as a daytime latch, but must always be locked out of use to maintain door security - especially if the door has a letter flap or glazing in or adjacent to it, as this should stop persons outside gaining access to the handle to release it.
Other UK standards include:
Claims that a lock has been tested to a particular standard can only be relied upon where the test has been undertaken and ‘certified’ by a recognised independent test body, e.g. in the UK typically by the BSI (Kitemark scheme), the MLA (Sold Secure scheme) or the BRE (LPCB scheme).
Given the complexity of some standards, the omission from some of certain desirable security tests and the need to consider a lock alongsie the intended type of door/window, the MLA and LPCB operate their own lock security grading & testing schemes - which reflect and build upon relevant British or European standards. The police backed Secured by Design (SBD) scheme is another good check on overall security, as 'approved' products must be certified as meeting all relevant BS/EN or other relevant UK standards.
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.
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
British Standards Institution (BSI). Tel 020 8996 9000 or visit www.bsi-global.com
The Door and Hardware Federation (DHF). Tel 08127 52337 or http://www.dhfonline.org.uk/
The RISC Authority (the UK insurers' technical advice body) see http://www.riscauthority.co.uk/
In particular see:-
Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), Tel 01923 664100 or visit www.redbooklive.com
Secured by Design (SBD) Tel 020 7084 8962 or visit www.securedbydesign.com
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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