Luke Adams, BBA’s Sector Manager for Fenestration, talks about how the Secured by Design scheme provides quality defence against burglars.
Staying one step ahead of the burglar has to be the aim of every police force and householder throughout the land. It’s an ongoing battle in which total victory can never be fully-claimed. However, with home security initiatives such as Secured by Design (SBD), a system exists to ensure housebuilders and homeowners can at least keep pace with the criminally-minded. The BBA works in conjunction with SBD to confirm the quality of a range of crime-prevention features including doors, windows and rooflights.
SBD is a hallmark valued by all sectors, especially the housing industry, where security is a major issue. Its stamp of approval indicates a product has undergone a range of vigorous tests and assessments to confirm that it complies with the British Standard – PAS 24.
At BBA’s UKAS-accredited test centre in Watford, a product is put under severe strain in a series of tough, simulated tests to ensure it meets the aforementioned Standard. For instance, our assessment team will take a crowbar to a window, in the style of a burglar, to test its vulnerability. Locks will also be manipulated using certain hand tools to confirm the item’s fit-for-purpose status. It ought to be pointed out – assessments are designed to replicate an opportunist or chance burglary.
As well as putting a product through its paces, BBA works alongside other accredited test bodies, police and lead members of the product manufacturing industry to update the PAS 24 Standard as criminal practices evolve.
Bumping the burglars
A good example of this was the introduction of a test method to combat “bumping” of front and back door key cylinders. During a quarterly meeting, police revealed that certain cylinders were found to be susceptible to a light tap of a hammer, which jumped the pins in the cylinder lock and allowed a blank key easy access to a property. BBA, along with associated parties, devised a test method to combat this method of intrusion. It means all cylinder products now have to pass this assessment – as well as other relevant tests – before gaining PAS 24 Certification to be legible for SBD approval.
The most recent change to the British Test Standard PAS 24 occurred in April 2016. To prevent intruders using instruments to physh-out keys through letterboxes, a security cowl fitted on the inside of the letter plate was found to be a suitable deterrent. This simple device ensures any item pushed through the letterbox will be forced downwards, rather than upwards. As with all suggested test methods submitted to combat security breaches, final approval for the published standard’s wording will be given by a panel consisting of manufacturers from various industries.
In 2015, the Government set out standards for security in the construction of new homes, in the form of a new Building Regulation. This Part Q ruling has led to enhanced security requirements, which BBA approval focuses on. Currently, BBA has more than 60 certificates which meet SBD requirements.
Architects and specifiers are increasingly looking to incorporate SBD and BBA-approved security products into designs, especially with the recent Part Q introduction. It means manufacturers with the relevant Certification stand a better chance of having products or systems specified for a particular project, opening-up a whole new marketplace. Home security doesn’t begin and end with the developer, however. Properties built on new housing estates are often fitted with the same locking system, giving burglars access to multiple dwellings. Residents should therefore be mindful of the potential risk at their door as well as aware of the range of SBD and BBA-approved security products which may provide welcome peace of mind.