As many schools across the UK have already closed their doors for the summer holidays, specialist insurer Ecclesiastical says schools will be an attractive target for criminals over the coming months. A combination of warm dry weather, plus bored teens wearing hoodies and egging each other on with baby gangster emojis, always produces a rash of school and other public space fires every summer. So here’s some useful advice for brokers to email to clients re securing premises and actually watching the CCTV to spot arsonists practising their craft.
Ecclesiastical has reported an uptick in schools being targeted over the summer months including vandalism, arson, break-ins, smashed windows, theft of lead from roofs and stolen laptops. In April, The British School in Wotton-under-Edge had lead from the roof stolen for a second time in two years.
Now with Covid-19 restrictions lifted and against a challenging economic backdrop and soaring prices, there are worries there will be a large spike in criminal activity.
Faith Kitchen, customer segment director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Schools are far more vulnerable during the summer holidays when school buildings are closed and often largely unoccupied, tempting opportunists. We’ve seen school buildings completely destroyed by arsonists, roofs stripped of lead leading to internal flooding and even school buses stolen from premises. Thieves can perceive schools as a soft target during the summer, so it is vital that they take steps to protect their premises from unscrupulous offenders. Brokers have an important role to play in helping their education clients identify and manage their risks and we encourage them to engage with schools to help them to take steps to protect themselves from criminals and follow our guidance.”
How to protect schools this summer
- Ensure CCTV systems have remote 24/7 monitoring services. Monitoring and alerting the police is far more effective than tracing criminals after a crime has taken place.
- Install remotely monitored intruder alarms and change alarm security codes and passwords on a regular basis.
- Install security lighting systems that have motion sensors to detect body movements.
- Restrict access to school premises. Well-designed perimeter security such as walls, fences and electric security gates, and anti-climb paint help to prevent people from getting onto school sites.
- Restrict vehicular access to the school site. Locate any designated parking as far from the school building as possible. The further thieves have to travel on foot the greater the risk of detection.
- Use security marking systems such as SmartWater which can help with successful prosecution of thieves.
- Ask the local community near your school to be vigilant and report any unusual or suspicious activity they notice on school grounds.
- Inform neighbourhood watch schemes / police liaison officers of planned work over the holidays as thieves might pose as contractors.
- Seek advice. Specialist insurers can offer advice and expertise to help schools manage security risks. Insurers can offer a combination of onsite and remote risk management services including security assessments and advice, alongside broader property protection and building valuation services.
Ecclesiastical Insurance offers a range of risk management support and guidance to help schools manage the risks they face. For more information, visit the Hub for Education.