Ways to keep a school protected when it’s empty

Over the summer holidays the relative quietness of school grounds can be taken as an invitation to trespassers, vandals and thieves. Lee Dover, writing on behalf of access control systems, looks at how school business managers can improve security across their school’s premises

Whether it’s only for a weekend, a week or two throughout the school year or over the long summer break, school corridors and classrooms empty out and there’s a heightened risk of thefts, vandalism and arson attacks occurring at premises which are left empty for a sustained amount of time. School business managers at an establishment should therefore work through this
The following checklist might be useful for school business managers before they leave their office over the holidays — as well as throughout the new school year heading into weekends:

1. In the classroom

There’s a few quick and simple checks that can be carried out around classrooms. Ensure that all windows have been closed and locked, for one, as well as that all electronics have been switched off at the mains. Make sure all valuable equipment is kept out of view too, by locking them away in a secure place.
During the school term, teachers, students and support staff should be encouraged to report any breakage or deterioration to doors, windows, roofs, wall cladding, ceiling tiles, alarms and locks as soon as they are discovered. That way, there should be enough time to get them repaired before the weekend or holidays begin.

2. Around the perimeter of a school

Don’t focus all your attention on the inside of the school — there are a few aspects that need to be looked at around your school’s perimeter. Report any large or overgrown trees or shrubbery both inside the school grounds and around the perimeter. These can make access to the grounds easier, as well as lead to unnecessary blind spots of CCTV coverage.
So that you don’t allow easy access to the school’s grounds, make sure that all locks are fit for purpose and that any access control systems on gates are functioning in a correct manner. It’s wise to have a look that all of the fencing around a school is fully intact too, with no damage or footholds that again allow for simple access into the grounds.

3. Reinforcing security measures

Next, focus on a school’s maintenance programmes to ensure they are in great working order ahead of an establishment being left empty. This will cover that fire alarms, intruder alarms and sprinkler systems are all operating properly.
Establish whether any parts of a school could benefit from some new alarms or security as well. Look out for areas that don’t have adequate surveillance currently but house many pieces of expensive equipment and technology. Cloud CCTV should also be considered when enhancing security, as it means a space can be monitored without the requirement to be on sight at all times.
It’s also important to test that security grilles and shutters are operating correctly, as well as reporting any damage to the fittings or bulbs of external lights the moment the issue is discovered.
Finally, place any bins or skips used within a school at least eight metres away from a school’s building and in a secure area of the grounds — that way, they shouldn’t be able to be used to access a building.
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