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Physical Standards

What is effective physical security and how do you specify it? Those were questions posed by Richard Flint at the Camden counter terror roadshow, in London on Friday, July 30.

You can specify by design – by the architect – such as type of material and size. Or you specify how something, such as a lock, will perform. Which lock or other product you ask for depends on the risk. Richard Flint is physical security certification scheme manager at the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), part of BRE Global. He said: “All too often we see specifications where they are told a product, say a double leaf door, needs to be to this standard, but the standard does not cover double leaf doors; so you end up in the very awkward scenario on trying to get something into a box it wasn’t designed to fit.” There are, Richard Flint went on, many standards out there: British, European, and private. Do they, he asked, address what he termed the criminal’s ‘entrepreneurial tendencies’? A criminal will judge the time and effort of a crime, the risk of making noise and leaving evidence; and the reward from the theft. You need to consider the whole product, he stressed; in other words, what is the good of specifying a high standard lock, if the hinges on the door, or the partition wall on either side, are of a low spec and allow the intruder fairly easy entry! Similarly, glass is only as strong as the frame; or a fence as the turnstile.

Richard Flint went through some of the standards: for the perimeter, these include the British Standard BS 1722, the PAS 68 standard and LPS 1175. For a façade: LPS 1175 and LPS 1270; for glazing materials, EN 1627, 1628, 1629 and 1630. For the ‘intruder space’, such as partition walls in a data centre, LPS 1175 and LPS 1270. He gave the example of three banks that may have their data in the same centre. So what are the barriers between each? Finally, you have the likes of safes, servers, and strong rooms (BS EN 1143-1) and security cabinets (BS EN 14450). LPS 1175 covers the resistance to forced entry of any barrier, whether a skylight, grille or screen, wall, conservatory, display case (for a museum), shed or tool store. Again stressing how weak security can undermine the higher-spec security elsewhere, Richard Flint spoke of how a key-safe of poor standard undermines the good security of a specified door and lock.

Take care of what claims are made for products. Anyone can say the product has been tested to a standard; but that does not mean the product passed. And if a sample product passed a test, are those specimens representative of the products manufactured? Richard Flint said that the LPCB fails more than 95 per cent of the security equipment they test; and security manufacturers are putting in products they do want passed, as the tests are expensive. So what failure rate is to be expected of products not tested by LPCB, he asked. Why do products fail? They are only as secure as their weakest point. A product designer may have overlooked a part of the overall door – such as the lever handle of a hotel door. Glass may be tested for one property – blast resistance – but that does not mean it has much resistance to another risk, such as forced entry. In other words, the standard a consultant or end user specifies should be appropriate to the risks. And if glazing for example is broken after it’s installed, you ought to make sure that the replacement is like for like. And a manufacturer may provide a compliant product, but does the contractor know how to install? Might accessories fixed to a door for instance compromise the door? Physical and electronic security, he summed up, should go hand in hand – and don’t forget the physical.


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