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What is Secured by Design?

What is Secured by Design?

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Secured by Design (SBD) is the official police security initiative. Its history begins with the housing boom of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, which led to homes being built quickly and cheaply, often with little consideration given to security. Crime increased significantly, particularly burglary. In response, the Police Service set up SBD in 1989.

Since it was launched, SBD has built up a wealth of experience promoting crime prevention and security through active involvement in local communities - constantly adapting the advice to keep pace with changing patterns of criminal behaviour.

SBD has worked with the Government to embed crime prevention into the planning process and establish police security standards in the building and construction industry.

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Designing Out Crime Officers

Across the UK SBD is delivered by local specialist officers called Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs). These officers work closely with architects, developers, and local authority planners at the design stage to design out crime by improving the physical security of buildings and incorporating crime prevention techniques in the layout and landscaping of the immediate surroundings.

Liaising with architects, designers and developers, DOCOs provide ongoing specialist advice on the security of new buildings and the refurbishment of existing buildings to enable building designs to be as safe and secure as is reasonably possible, promoting an awareness of the principles of crime prevention through design to both build awareness of, and ensure the adoption of, recommended security standards and specifications.

The DOCO provides specialist security advice and guidance as it pertains to the built environment at every stage of the design process, from pre-planning to the full development control process, in order to minimise the potential for crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour.

Developers can achieve SBD awards for incorporating crime prevention measures and techniques into their developments in all kinds of building sectors, such as residential, education, health, transport, commercial, retail, sport and leisure. 

More than one million homes have been built to SBD crime prevention standards across the UK - that's 30% of all new homes built - with reductions in crimes such as burglary of up to 87%, as reported by Police Scotland. These are sustainable reductions each and every year, which is significant as most SBD homes are in social housing, many in deprived and higher crime areas.

Because of the unique specialist role of the DOCO, it is vital that there is engagement with the rest of the policing family to ensure that a 'whole' building security solution is provided. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place between Counter Terrorism Security Advisers (CTSAs) and DOCOs to support this measure and ensure they work together effectively to provide formal responses to relevant planning applications. DOCOs are recommended as a source of assistance by the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure (CPNI) due to their comprehensive, specialist training.

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Police Preferred Specification

On behalf of the UK Police Service, SBD also operates an accreditation scheme for products or services that have met recognised security standards. These products or services - which must be capable of deterring or preventing crime - are known as being of a 'Police Preferred Specification'.

The Police Preferred Specification scheme has been operating for over 20 years. It requires all security products to meet or exceed the performance expectations documented within the relevant security standard for that type of product. It ensures that the product is sufficiently robust to resist physical attack by casual and opportunistic criminals.

The SBD focus is on the critical factors that combine to deliver a product's performance - design, use, quality control and the ability to deter or prevent crime.

Products that have met the Police Preferred Specification provide reassurance to the specifier, purchaser or user that their products have been independently tested to a relevant security standard and fully certified by an independent third-party certification body recognised by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), or tested and certified by an alternative approved body such as Sold Secure or Thatcham.

Indeed, SBD instigated the formation of the UK Test House Studies Group and Certification Bodies Group for doorsets, windows and lock products, and have chaired these groups for almost 20 years with the sole aim being to ensure there is parity between test and certification bodies. Better quality means these products last longer too, making them more cost effective and leading to greater sustainability in crime prevention.

The SBD website contains details of the many hundreds of companies who produce over 7000 individual attack resistant crime prevention products in more than 30 different categories that have met the exacting Police Preferred Specification. This includes doors, windows, external storage, bicycle and motorcycle security, locks and hardware, asset marking, alarms, CCTV, safes, perimeter security products and many others.

All of the companies have their full website and contact information listed, as well as a detailed list of all of the SBD accredited products which they provide.

SBD is the only way for companies to obtain police recognition for security-related products in the UK. For further information, contact Kenny McHugh at Kenny.mchugh@police-cpi.co.uk.



Kenny McHugh is the National Lead for Secured By Design. He has the responsibility of managing the Development Officer team with Police CPI (Secured by Design) and the day to day operation of the SBD initiative. Over and above his managerial responsibilities, he looks after the SBD member companies in Scotland, Northern Ireland & Ireland.


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We're always on the lookout for guest writers to contribute to Connected. If you're a leader in your industry, we'd love to hear your unique perspective on security. Get in touch to talk about how you can be involved.


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