June 17, 2024

Secured by Design (SBD) – Celebrating 35 years of designing out crime and protecting communities

Secured by Design (SBD), the official police security initiative that works to improve the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work, shop and visit, celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2024.

Part of the Police Crime Prevention Initiatives portfolio, SBD was created in 1989 following the housing boom of the 1960s-1980s when there was a huge and urgent demand for housing, with estates being built quickly and often cheaply without any basic security. This resulted in a significant rise in burglary and it was clear that criminals were taking easy advantage of residential layouts that failed to provide adequate natural surveillance, were highly permeable, where anonymity was absolute and escape routes plentiful. Add to this scenario the lack of effective physical security standards associated with homes at the time, it was of no surprise that by 1996 UK burglary figures peaked at 1.8m offences a year.

It was obvious that something needed to be done to reduce burglary and encourage the adoption of improved standards of design, layout and security and in response, the Police Service set up SBD. SBD work closely with architects, builders, developers, local authorities and registered housing associations to incorporate police crime prevention standards into developments from initial concept and design, through to construction and completion. Police forces throughout the UK have specially trained Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs) who offer police designing out crime and SBD advice free of charge.

The most effective time to design out crime is during the initial design of the development, literally when the plans are still at the drawing board stage. For example, the re-orientation of a building or the removal of unrestricted access to the rear of a development can be easily achieved. It costs no more to design a development well, as opposed to it being designed poorly. In fact, there is compelling evidence that poor design impacts significantly on the sustainability of a development, and thereby requires huge funds to counter the negative impacts generated by crime. Impacts which could have easily been designed out many years before with a little more thought.

To date, over one million homes and commercial properties have been built to SBD standards with reductions in crime of up to 87%. A number of local authorities have even gone so far as to introduce SBD standards as a planning requirement.

Improved security

Developers around the UK 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. Indeed, SBD can be used as evidence to discharge third-party obligations under Part Q of Schedule 1 (Security) to the English Building Regulations, the Scottish Building Standard 4.13 (Security) and Welsh Building Regulations Part Q (Security – Dwellings). These awards are gained by working with the aforementioned DOCOs, who advise architects, developers and local authority planners long before construction begins – and continue to provide advice and guidance until the development is complete.

Academic and other research shows that improving standards of security in brand new and refurbished properties, helps deter and reduce crime. Reducing crime and the fear of crime has direct links to better physical and mental well-being, such as with regard to high volume crimes like domestic abuse.   

The built environment influences the behaviour of people who work, live, socialise or simply pass through. SBD seeks to create environments where the law-abiding feel safe and secure whilst at the same time causing the criminal or anti-social to feel vulnerable to detection and thereby influence behaviour in a positive way. This continues to be a key objective for SBD.
 
SBD Design Guides

SBD has produced a series of authoritative Design Guides to assist the building, design and construction industry to incorporate security into developments to comply with the Building Regulations in England, Scotland and Wales and meet the requirements of SBD.

These Design Guides, available to download for free at the SBD website, have been updated over the years to keep pace with changing patterns of criminal behaviour and advances in building design and new technology.

They are a valuable source of reference to architects, developers, self-builders, local authority planners and police officers and cover a range of building sectors, including residential, education, health, transport and commercial. 

Interactive 3D Design Guide

SBD also has a 3D virtual toolkit for planners, architects, surveyors, and anyone involved with designing, building and commissioning developments. Located on the SBD website, it helps to build an understanding of security in developments and highlight best practice solutions. The interactive guides available in this toolkit are based on SBD’s residential, commercial and schools guides.

A series of scenarios, such as the layout of communal spaces, use of lighting, perimeter security and landscape planting, highlight the design decisions that could increase the risk of crime and anti-social behaviour. Each scene has an alternative solution detailing the relevant standards recommended by SBD and the police service. 

SBD Development Awards

Developers around the UK 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.

The three differing levels of SBD security award are:

SBD Gold which incorporates the security of the external environment together with the physical security specification of the home;

SBD Silver which offers those involved in new developments, major refurbishment and the individual the opportunity to gain an award for the level of physical security provided;

SBD Bronze which offers a route to achieve a reasonable level of physical security for bespoke or refurbished properties where a traditional enhanced security product is not available, or cannot be utilised due to the listed building or other conservation status.

These awards are gained by working with SBD’s specially trained police DOCOs, who advise architects, developers and local authority planners long before construction begins – and continue to provide advice and guidance until the development is complete. This service is provided free of charge.

National Building Approval
 
SBD’s National Building Approval (NBA) scheme makes it easier for companies and organisations commissioning new build developments or major refurbishment work to meet SBD’s police security standards or achieve Building Regulation compliance for security in England, Scotland and Wales, whichever is appropriate. The scheme can apply to any building sector.

NBA is for developers, builders and contractors, as well as organisations like local authorities, housing associations and social landlords. Many of SBD member companies are household name residential developers, with one of the largest local authorities in Europe becoming the first local authority to join the scheme in 2018.

Architects & Town Planners

Architects and Town Planners can request a RIBA approved professional development session on crime prevention and designing out crime from SBD.

The presentation content includes relevant legislation, policy and guidance; an overview of property crime trends; an evaluation of why crime occurs and an introduction to SBD. 

Product-based accreditation scheme

SBD has worked with businesses, the construction industry and standards authorities at home and abroad for many years, leading SBD to develop a product based police accreditation scheme over 25 years ago – the Police Preferred Specification.

Products that have met the Police Preferred Specification provide reassurance to the specifier, purchaser or user  that the 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.

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. Better quality means these products last longer too, making them more cost effective and leading to greater sustainability in crime prevention.