Managing school security is no easy task. Outside of school hours and especially when schools are closed during holidays, educational facilities in the UK are constantly in the crosshairs of criminals, be they organised gangs or opportunists looking to steal assets, property and/or cause damage through anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, or even arson.
In our experience, however, this has been exacerbated pre and post lockdown. We have seen a marked increase in criminal incidents at schools, colleges, and universities across the country during these unprecedented time with many schools stand empty or operating with reduced staff numbers or opening hours. in 2020.
Following lockdown restrictions in April 2021, we have noticed a massive spike in police reported burglary incidents across the UK, as the chart below illustrates:
Between April and Oct 2021 there have been 124,243 reported burglaries across England, Wales & NI. As a leading CCTV & alarm monitoring station we have seen this spike in burglary incidents that we have responded to increase further during November and December too, across all sectors including education facilities like schools, colleges and universities.
Surge in Burglaries at Schools
You do not have to look far to find a raft of news media reports reflecting the crime escalation in our schools. Here are just a few such stories highlighting incidents at schools across the UK in 2020:
> Appeal after Kindderminster school is hit by burglary – Oct 2021 The Kidderminster Shuttle
> Police appeal for for witnesses after burglary at Malvern school – Oct 2021, The Malvern Gazette
< Warning after break-ins at primary school and nine other buildings in one day – Sept 2021, Gloucestershire Live
> Burglary at Shaftesbury C of E Primary School – Sept 2021, Bournemouth Echo
>iPads and laptops stolen from school in overnight break-in – Aug 2021, Wales Online
> Thieves target County Durham primary school twice in one night to steal iPads & laptops – Feb 2021, Chronicle Live
Why are schools targeted by thieves
Of course, modern schools house more than chalk and blackboards, most are more hi-tech than in days of old…
According to statistics published by British Educational Suppliers Organisation (BESA) there are 3.3 million computers in UK classrooms across the 32,770 schools in the UK – many of these are currently standing empty during lockdown.
In fact, on average primary schools have 70 computers on site and secondary schools have 431.
Theft of essential tech like tablets, computers, projectors and laptops can be devastating to not just schools, but their pupils learning journeys too. For example £9,000 worth of equipment was stolen in May from a school in Derbyshire and a Trafford school was left devastated after classroom computers were stolen in a burglary in September this year.
However, it is not just laptops and computers that are at risk. Schools are also vulnerable to vandalism and arson as well as thefts of other valuable items such as sports equipment and more. For example, in April 2021 toys and play equipment stolen from a pre-school in Oxford.
Further Education Institutions (colleges & universities) are at risk from burglary too
With 381 FE colleges and 142 universities across the UK, maintaining security at further education institutions is also crucial as these sorts of news media articles highlight:
How can schools, colleges & universities optimise their security to prevent intruders?
As a leading remote security monitoring station, we work across a range of sectors including many education sector clients in helping them to proactively optimise their security to protect their people, premises and assets from burglary, theft and criminal damage.
Of course, many of our clients will agree there are distinct advantages of using CCTV cameras in schools and educational facilities. Our remote monitoring services of these premises outside of operating hours give the peace of mind that highly trained and experienced security experts are at hand to respond to triggered event activated alarms in real time.
Why consider CCTV Monitoring from Farsight
In recent years CCTV surveillance has become an essential pillar of security delivering the ability to proactively prevent many crimes from progressing as well as retrospectively enabling crucial investigation of incidents that do progress despite the presence of the preventative security measures.
Proactive CCTV security: Deterrence through the presence of CCTV surveillance and prevention of incident progression with ‘front footed’ CCTV operator response which includes audio deterrent warnings and real-time escalation to keyholders and blue light first responders.
Retrospective CCTV security: CCTV footage can provide crucial evidence to support police and other emergency services in gathering evidence relating to an incident. This evidence can, under certain circumstances, be used in court to support prosecution.
Below we we list the top five proactive and retrospective security benefits of monitored CCTV surveillance:
- Proactive – ‘Deterrence’
- Proactive – ‘Detection’
- Proactive – ‘Prevention’
- Proactive – ‘Emergency Response Facilitation’
- Retrospective – ‘Investigation, Prosecution Evidence’
Read our full article on the benefits of including a monitored CCTV surveillance in your security provision below:
What is remote CCTV monitoring and how does it work?
With Farsight’s remote CCTV services in play, incidents can be proactively assessed and responded to in real time before they progress. Rapid response measures can include audio warnings, particularly effective in deterring would be intruders, as well as escalation to police and keyholders if needed.
These two recent intruders at a college in Buckinghamshire were stopped in their tracks as they realised they were being monitored on live CCTV after gaining access to the site at 10.30pm, following a live audio warning being issued:
Many news media articles, like the ones mentioned, feature retrospective accounts or footage to aid investigation of incidents after they have happened, and the damage has been done. Remote CCTV monitoring, however, can be beneficial in preventing incidents, in real time.
Another example of our proactive security prevention happened recently at a primary school when a gang’s attempt to break in was foiled. On this occasion, Farsight’s CCTV operators were alerted to intruders and subsequently called in the police, whilst observing their exact whereabouts on site with multiple CCTV cameras, aiding the police to corner and arrest them.
The above still image from CCTV footage shows the police waiting for them as they reluctantly climbed back over the main gate empty handed and into custody.
CCTV can bolster the efficiency of intruder alarms too…
Intruder alarms are present in most schools, however, once triggered they provide a ‘blind’ alarm call to the relevant Alarm Receiving Centre. The alarm operator will not see what has triggered the alarm which can have an impact on the sites police URN status.
However, technology has evolved to allow onsite CCTV cameras to deliver visual verification of the alarm call – allowing the alarm responder visually verify the incident to discern whether it is a genuine risk or a false alarm. After all, seeing is believing!
Below is a short explainer video outlining simply what alarm visual verification can add to your school security…
A strong benefit of adding Farsight’s alarm visual verification service to bolster your school security is that your alarm & CCTV systems can be monitored together for improved efficiency. Simply, by adding a low cost device to enable this, your existing alarm & CCTV equipment can be used without the need for an upgrade. Find out more here.
Get peace of mind that your school security is optimised
A monitored CCTV solution can give the peace of mind that should an intrusion incident occur at your premises, a trained and experienced CCTV operator at Farsight is ready to respond the threat within seconds and will take the appropriate action to minimise the risk of loss and harm.
However, Farsight does not only specialise in CCTV monitoring. Our remote monitoring services also include CCTV monitoring, alarm monitoring, lone worker protection and access control. In fact, when factoring in our full range of remote monitoring security solutions, Farsight were recognised by Corporate Vision in 2020 as the UK’s Best Security Service Provider – UK and ‘Best remote CCTV monitoring specialists – UK’ in 2021.
If you would like to get in touch with the Farsight team to see how we can support the security and safety of your premises, assets and people with our remote security monitoring services, we’d love to hear from you. Simply call us 0845 371 0101 or drop us a line in the form below:
Further resources to help you optimise your school or FE facility security
Of course, CCTV cameras, audio warnings and remote monitoring are only part of the security measures for schools, colleges, and universities to consider. To help, we have collated some free comprehensive security guides featuring top tips to ensure school security is optimised and maintained, especially during this period of lockdown.
We also suggest you read the following gov.uk recommended guidelines for managing security at schools & colleges in the UK: