As students and staff count down to the Easter break, vandals and thieves may be scouting for their next easy target: a vacant school building.
Not surprisingly, holidays, weekends and afternoons are the most common time for school break-ins and vandalism. Without the watchful eye of staff and coming and going of students, there is little to deter perpetrators.
A break-in can mean costly damage, interruption to staff holidays and uncomfortable students and parents. In the lead up to the holiday period, every school should assess its premises for security risks and implement appropriate measures.
Security technology can provide an important first line of defence. Installing CCTV camera can help to deter criminals, who are less likely to commit offences in visibly monitored areas. Footage can also be used to support police investigations. During term time,CCTV may be used to support efforts aimed at reducing bullying, violence and assault, the use of weapons and drug and alcohol related problems.
A monitored alarm service can provide peace of mind that the school’s security provider will respond swiftly to an emergency over the break and send a patrol service, if required.
A quick response can potentially reduce the time that a school is exposed to damage by vandals and thieves. Our research shows that members of the public are unlikely to investigate or call the police when they hear an alarm go off in their local area, so it’s important not to rely on surrounding neighbours to keep school premises safe.
Developing a pre-holiday checklist can also help to ensure a consistent approach to school security. This may include some of the following:
- Lock away all non-secured outdoor play equipment and wheelie bins, as these can be moved and used to jump fences or access the building through higher windows.
- Remove loose materials lying around school grounds which may be used as projectiles, such as loose bricks, large rocks or branches.
- Check all security lighting is in proper working order. Lighting can help to deter thieves and vandals.
- Arrange to have trees trimmed, as overhanging branches can hinder local observation of school grounds and buildings.
- Ensure no money is left on site and post signs to indicate the same.
- Lock away un-issued keys in a secure location.
- Secure all portable and valuable resources, such as laptops and TVs, away from windows and under lock and key or in an alarmed room.
- If the school is alarmed, ensure the monitoring provider is notified of all site users, including vacation care staff, contractors, hirers and cleaners. Ensure users are reminded of alarm procedures and their responsibilities to secure all windows and buildings.
- Provide afterhours and key-holder contact details to monitored alarm providers or the local police, if the school does not have an alarm system.
- Display the security provider’s phone number on publicly visible school noticeboards during holiday periods.
- Lock all gates, doors and windows before leaving the premises. Security fences should be checked to ensure there are no gaps between the fence and ground that could allow access.
Consulting a security specialist can help a school to identify potential security risks and develop a comprehensive security strategy. ADT Security offers a range of tailored solutions for the education sector. To find out more, visit www.adtsecurity.com.au or call 131 ADT (131 238).