Managing school security is no easy task. Outside of school hours, 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 by the Covid-19 lockdown, and we have seen a marked increase in criminal incidents at schools, colleges, and universities across the country in these recent months as many schools stand empty or are operating with reduced staff numbers or opening hours.
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:
1. Thieves steal laptops as they raid Coventry primary school – Coventry, 28th April 2020
2. Disgust as school for blind children burgled four times in a month – Merseyside, 13th April 2020
3. Bransholme primary school raided by ‘teenagers’ – Hull, 2nd April 2020
4. Police called to ongoing burglary at Leeds school as firearms team arrest suspects – Leeds, 13th March 2020
5. Information wanted Warwick primary school burglary – Warwick, 28th February
6. Primary school targeted by burglars – Peterborough, 18th February 2020
7. Burglary at primary school in Welwyn Garden City – Welwyn Garden City, 14th January 2020
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. However, it is not just laptops and computers that are at risk as this recent incident in Essex highlights: Coronavirus: Essex school burgled and all food stolen.
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.
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.
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:
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