Feeling safe and secure in the places we live, work and spend our leisure time is an increasingly vital part of building design. Crime brings a huge cost to individuals and businesses – whether that is costs incurred in anticipation of crime, responding to crime or increased costs as a consequence of crime.
The cost of crime is not just a financial issue. For individuals, being affected by crime can lead to time off work because of injury, as well as the often hidden costs of anxiety, stress and feelings of vulnerability. For businesses, this can lead to a fall in productivity or difficulty retaining or recruiting staff. And, of course, crime is a major cost for local and national authorities in terms of police time, the cost to the NHS and other public services.
Even something that might seem as relatively trivial as bike theft can have significant personal and financial consequences. A report in the Independent in July 2019 said that 104,768 bike thefts were reported by local authorities in England and Wales over the preceding twelve month period. The newspaper quoted a survey by Yellow Jersey/British Transport Police saying that the average cost of a stolen bike was £327.55, and two thirds of respondents said the incident affected them both financially and emotionally. Bike crime hotspots including the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, together with major transport hubs and office commuting areas such as the City of London.
Whether it be bike theft, personal safety or protection of property and equipment, the design of our offices, buildings and the places we visit has an important role to play in preventing and reducing crime.
However, designing out crime is not simply a case of incorporating better locks, doors and windows. For it to be most effective, crime prevention needs to be designed-in at the start of a project. If designers consider the ways in which the built environment might be susceptible to crime early in the design process, they can prevent crime from occurring, or at least reduce the likelihood of it occurring.
BREEAM Security Needs Assessment (SNA)
An evidence-based ‘Security Needs Assessment’ (SNA) under the BREEAM sustainability standard aims to encourage the planning and implementation of measures that provide an appropriate level of security to a building and site.
BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 provides one credit (known as Hea 06) for an SNA to be conducted by a ‘Suitably Qualified Security Specialist’ (SQSS). There is a similar provision in BREEAM UK Refurbishment and Fit-Out, recognising the equal importance of the opportunity provided by building renovation and refurbishment.
Hea 06 defines a Security Needs Assessment as “the project and site-specific assessment of security needs”, and requires:
- A visual audit of the site and surroundings
- Formal consultation with relevant stakeholders
- Identification of risks specific to the use and user groups of the building
- Identification of any detrimental effects the development may have on the existing community
Hea 06 should be undertaken at RIBA Stage 2 (initial concept design) to ensure that its recommendations can be incorporated into the building design. There is a clarification that elements of Hea 06 can be achieved later if the SQSS confirms that the implementation of security measures has not been ‘restricted, impaired or are not possible as a result of their later involvement’.
The requirement under Hea 06 to consult with stakeholders such as the local police representative in the form of the Designing Out Crime Officer (DOCO) or Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA) ensures that up-to-date information on specific local and emerging crime types and criminal methods can be included. As the DOCO is a planning consultee, early engagement with them via a security consultant is recommended anyway.
“Hea 06 is one of the credits under BREEAM that if considered early can lead to positive improvements in building design and placemaking’ says Ken Graham, security consultant and qualified ‘SQSS’ for ADW Developments.
“It’s an opportunity for the client and the design team to understand some of the options that can ultimately lead to both a better place to live or work, and greater satisfaction and wellbeing for occupiers. If considered early, the recommendations from a security needs assessment can often lead to cost savings in future by avoiding major retrofit, as well as the human and financial cost should crime occur.”
There can, of course, be differences for example if a building designed to be occupied by a single tenant or is being developed speculatively for multiple tenants. However, BREEAM Hea 06 is designed to cater for a variety of options and considerations.
“BREEAM Hea 06 need not be prescriptive” says Ken. “At ADW we are prepared to work alongside the design team to assess various options, given the site, location and nature of the building, and what is equally important is the purpose of the building, the likely tenants and business to be undertaken in the premises. In fact, we find working alongside the team at the start can bring major benefits”.
ADW Developments have provided SNAs for buildings around the UK – including major office and mixed use developments in London, to schools and health care buildings around the UK. Whatever the type of building or the intended client, the approach of consulting with the client and the design team remains consistent from the start.
For those with security concerns that go beyond immediate BREEAM requirements – either due to specific site characteristics, location or perhaps the nature of the use of the building – there is SABRE, BRE’s security risk management standard for new and existing buildings. SABRE allows organisations to evidence their commitment to security and communicate their ability to manage security risks. This provides valuable assurance to tenants, insurers, investors, regulators, planning authorities and other interested parties. The SABRE assessment process follows a framework incorporating nine technical sections and 70 assessment issues. For each section there is an aim and each technical issue includes criteria and suitable metrics for demonstrating compliance.