Site Security. How would you lockdown your site?
With the current UK terror threat listed at critical, as well as a number of schools having their own individual threats to students from outside, it is interesting to see the different approaches to site lockdown and student safety.
Have you considered that should something happen how you would raise the alarm? Do you have a lockdown procedure in place? Is it well drilled? And do your staff and students know what to do to keep themselves safe?
The First steps
I have gone through this process, due to a real threat being received. It is useful to do this cold looking at your site, firstly by conducting a site security review, with the help of police crime prevention or counter terrorism training officers.
Are you aware of the free counter terrorism awareness training free for your staff? This can be accessed via your local counter terrorism service through the Police. They currently run CT Awareness training in three formats: Project Griffin, Project Argus and "Mail Handling". – google these for further information, and this includes a video based exercise for your leadership team to start thinking about what they would do in different scenarios, and for staff and students the ‘run hide tell’ posters and video https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/stay-safe-film.
Following on from your risk assessment, is your site secure, does it have CCTV, do staff have radios or means to communicate and how would you raise an alarm? How long will it take the emergency services to reach you and this is the contingency time you are planning for?
Following on from the risk assessment, how would you raise the alarm to alert staff and students? If you use a lockdown system, please discuss it in the comments below. Does it use a fire alarm system or computer network – what are the pros and cons of this – for example, fire will always take precedence on a fire alarm and this could result in students exiting the site into the path of a potential attacker. The computer based systems generally rely on the PC being on, sound not muted and you being logged in, and the network up at the time.
There are a number of standalone systems and we are just finalising our choices between a site-wide paging system, and a system that delivers a panic button in every classroom to raise the alarm, linked to a remote app on your mobile phone or Ipad giving location information, or using the fire alarms system with an additional tone.
It would be very interesting to discuss the systems you are using if you have one and think about the pros and cons of each one.
Consider, should it be safer for students to be barricaded into the room they are in, how you would raise the alarm in your own school, and how to overcome a fire alarm activation during a lockdown – do you have a system, policy and procedure in place?
What about a bomb threat – do you have guidance in place and do your staff know what to do?
Do your staff and students challenge or report non-identified visitors or intruders? Do you have a culture of challenge from staff and students to visitors not wearing badges or being escorted?
It’s not always terror related
I hope that you will never use this for a real-life incident, but a growing number of schools are having to actually lockdown their site, for a number of reasons. I have had to do this due to a gas escape from a science lab where it was safe for students to remain in classrooms and the lockdown system would have been invaluable if it had been installed at that time
Bearing in mind most lockdowns happen in the US, what do you think is the most common reason for locking down a school? An attacker? Intruder? Fortunately, not. The most common threat worldwide instigating a lockdown is a grizzly bear wandering onto your site – something I believe will not concern many of us!
I look forward to your thoughts, what systems you currently use, and hope that this may be a useful though process for us to share our best practice
Web Links and Further Information
By David Evans - June 2017