James Gray, Projects Manager at Videx UK, a leading manufacturer and supplier of audio and video door entry intercoms and access control systems in the UK, explains why Secured by Design (SBD) accredited systems play an important role in improving security and reducing anti-social behaviour for local authorities and housing associations. He also discusses why local authority and housing association contractors, specifiers and developers need to know about SBD and the role it plays in crime prevention.
“Secured by Design (SBD) is the UK police initiative for designing out crime by physical security, that aims to reduce crime through effective environmental design. The scheme calls for the installation of security products within local authority and housing association developments, that meet police approved standards.
The principles of Secured by Design have been proven to achieve a reduction of crime risk by up to 75% and significant reductions in anti-social behaviour, which is why it’s such an important recognition in the local authority and housing sector. All door entry, access control and associated physical security products should carry the SBD accreditation, whether this is housing association property, assisted living, high rise flats or apartment blocks - the standard should always be followed to assure maximum security as well as meeting the specific entry needs.
Crime prevention within the local authority and housing association sector is a key priority. The aim of ‘Designing Out Crime’ is to reduce the vulnerability of people and property to crime by removing opportunities that may be unintentionally provided by the surrounding environment. Many high-rise social housing blocks are used as shortcuts and hangouts by non-residents especially estates that have a multiple entrance layout. Residential developments without adequate security are potential magnets for disruptive and criminal behaviour. This, in turn, can affect the quality of life for residents and often results in buildings becoming a popular place for criminal behaviour such as drug use and associated crime.
Access control and door entry systems are now available to help overcome common issues including anti-social behaviour (such as noise, intimidation and assault) and benefit fraud, often key challenges facing local authorities and housing associations. Reports can be prepared showing fob activity and logging which flats visitors call at, when a conversation starts and ends, and when exit buttons are pressed to leave the building. When used in conjunction with CCTV, these reports can provide useful information which can aid in any investigations helping to improve resident’s safety and security as well as bolster crime prevention.
Without adequate access control, vandals can easily access a building often resulting in ongoing repair costs and an unpleasant environment for residents to live in, making them feel unsafe and less likely to respect the property themselves.
As a member SBD company, Videx has taken the principles of designing out crime and applied them to the specification and development of Police Preferred Specification’ products. It means we work regularly with local authority and housing association specifiers, developers and contractors, explaining the role of regulated, crime-reducing door entry systems that are cost-effective too.
Investment in Secured by Design accredited and bespoke door entry systems that are flexible to meet current and ongoing specific entry needs should they evolve is vital. One popular system that we provide is the Secured by Design accredited VX2200 system, which is a popular choice amongst local authorities and housing associations, which can be tailored to meet specific entry needs. It is an extremely flexible system which can accommodate individual houses through to large blocks with multiple entrances, such as housing association accommodation. Concierge facilities are also available for this system allowing a concierge to be used either on site or remotely via an IP or ethernet connection. Videx offers a range of door panel styles ranging from modular through to vandal resistant and several different styles of apartment video monitors and telephones.
An important feature of the VX2200 system is the ability to monitor events that are happening within the building or property in real time, to keep track of calls and access within the building because it helps to reduce anti-social behaviour. Events can be filtered to find specific incidents that have occurred within the property and can be viewed on any device such as a tablet, mobile phone, laptop or PC. Additionally, email alerts can be set up when important events take place during certain times or days. For example, an alert can be set to send an email should a door or gate be opened excessively during the night or when access is not permitted.
SBD has recently updated its legalisation and there now exists a Secured by Design National Building Approval that provides installers, specifiers, contractors and developers with a more efficient and simplified route to compliance. New SBD guidelines state that any residential or commercial developments that provide over 25 dwellings must capture and record colour images of those who use the property’s door entry system. The Videx memory videophone, for example, offers this feature and is a popular choice for local authorities and housing associations. Critically, on board memory can store up to 100 pictures and it provides the capability of recording images onto an SD Card.
The key to manufacturing and providing a good access control system is to ensure its bespoke to the entry needs it meets. This is not just limited to the look, size and feel of the external door panel. Videx can, for example, also fully adapt the system’s software to meet the end user’s needs. For instance, we have provided bespoke software options which allow multiple doors to open upon authorisation and remain open following very specific commands from the user, often a great benefit for local authority and housing association developments.
Engraving a system is also part of this bespoke service. As well as featuring engraving for apartment numbers, we can also provide a specific logo, company name or block name on the panel, which is especially useful in local authority and housing association buildings. Whether it’s high rise flats or supported living accommodation, engraving is extremely useful because it enables call buttons to be specifically named or labelled, helping the caller to speak to the right person or department when they visit. Engraving can also be used to highlight an out-of-hours or emergency contact or reception / concierge service for example.