The majority of burglaries and break-ins throughout the UK are opportunistic and unplanned. If a criminal spots an opportunity they take advantage of it immediately. Being the victim of burglary can be very traumatic, leaving people feeling unsafe in their homes. Police forces provide some valuable advice on home security including practical recommendations to bolster perimeter security.
Layered Home Security
One of the key recommendations made by police forces and security professionals is to employ a multi-layered approach. Layered home security provides robust, effective protection by using a variety of security techniques that overlap, thereby providing greater protection than reliance on one security solution alone.
When thinking about home security people often focus on the doors and windows. While these aspects of property security are vitally important a layered approach should apply the same level of focus to the property perimeter.
Perimeter Security Recommendations
Carrying out a simple perimeter security assessment is recommended. Here are the police recommendations for home perimeter security.
Are All Aspects of Your Perimeter Robust and in Good Condition?
The perimeter of your property might include fencing, walls, hedges and gates. The perimeter at the front of your property should not present an obstruction that obscures the view of your front door and prevents natural surveillance from neighbours or passers by. Ideally, the front perimeter should be no more than 1 metre high.
Perimeters at the rear of your property should deter access from neighbouring properties. Boundaries should be greater than 1.8 metres in height and further deterrence can be achieved using prickly plants and shrubs. Adding trellis is an effective way to increase the height of boundary walls and fences.
Gates need to be effective in keeping intruders out. Its important to be aware of how ornamental metal gates can be used as a ladder to gain access to a property. This can be prevented by attaching a rigid metal mesh to the front of the metal gate. Gates should be the same height as the boundary fencing and should ideally be secured using robust hasp and staple with closed shackle padlocks at the top and bottom. Gates which are routinely used to enter and exit a property should ideally be lockable from both sides.
Ensure there are no trees or shrubs that could potentially be used to gain access to the property. Also, identify any plants that could possibly provide cover for someone attempting to break in. These should be cut back or removed.
If your property has a shared access alleyway its worth talking to your neighbours and installing a locked gate preventing access to the alleway as well as another locked gate leading into your garden.
Is Your Garden or External Area Secure?
Remember that the perimeter of your property involves everything in your garden, yard or external space. Wheelie bins, for example, can be used to gain access to upper storey windows. Or if they are located outside your perimeter, they can be used to climb over walls and fences. Wheelie bins should be considerately located and ideally chained in place.
Its important to be aware of what you are leaving outdoors. Garden tools, for example, can be used to force entry via windows and doors. Also, bricks and ornaments are known to have been used by criminals to break into properties. Its essential to not provide opportunistic criminals with what they need to break into your home.
Don’t overlook the security of your shed, garage or outbuildings. Criminals know how these structures are often far less secure than houses and they also know they generally contain many items that can be easily sold for cash on the black market. Make certain your outbuildings are robustly locked and the structures are robust. All items inside should be security marked and its also good practice to securely attach valuable items, such as bikes and mowers, to immovable anchor points.
Using a gravel driveway or pathway can be another valuable security precaution. The noise made when someone walks on a gravel surface provides further security and can act as a deterrent.
Exterior lighting that either switches on automatically in darkness or is triggered by motion, is a valuable security precaution. Opportunistic criminals like to work unseen, often in darkness, so security lighting is another powerful deterrent.
Do You Have Security Alarms or CCTV?
Alarm systems and CCTV cameras provide another layer of valuable security. Police forces recommend that people don’t use dummy devices as criminals are highly aware of what these look like.
Alarms can be installed around the main home as well as specifically on garages, sheds and outbuildings. CCTV camera systems have become very affordable and are particularly effective when used in conjunction with security lighting. Remember to post appropriate warning signage if CCTV cameras are installed.
Its important to routinely test and verify that alarm systems are operational. Ideally, alarms should be active whenever the property is empty and at night.
Use ‘Secured by Design’ Approved Security Products
‘Secured by Design’ approved products have been assessed and tested to a high standard by police approved assessors. The Secured by Design website provides a searchable database of security products and suppliers including alarms, CCTV, physical perimeter security systems and much more.