A personal view of policing and cycling in tandemGuy Ferguson, CEO of Secured by Design
A little bit about me – and cycling
I have been a keen cyclist throughout my life.
This includes during my 32-year career with the Metropolitan Police where I led more than 50 murder investigations, was heavily involved in the body recovery following the Paddington rail crash in October 1999 and the police response to the Asian Tsunami in December 2004. I received a Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery for the action I took during the 2011 summer riots, which started in London.
On many occasions, I used to get out and about, including visits to police stations, on a cycle wearing my police ‘cycle uniform’ and it caused some surprise and no little amusement for the public and colleagues to see a senior officer on a bike.
I retired as a Detective Chief Superintendent and Borough Commander in 2014.
Since 2016 it has been my privilege to be Chief Executive Officer of Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative. It is a role that enables me to continue to work with senior officers within the Met Police and now, additionally, with Chief Constables and Assistant Chief Constables around the UK.
In this role, I regularly cycle from my home in an outer London Borough to meetings in central London as and when circumstances allow. Being as passionate about cycling as I have always been, I am always looking for the opportunity to cycle rather than travel by train or car.
I am a strong advocate of all the many benefits of cycling, such as keeping physically fit and contributing to protecting the environment as well as being a supporter of initiatives that promote cycling generally and make it safer. Fortunately, I am well-positioned to promote the interest of cyclists.
The start of the Secured by Design journey
SBD was set up 29 years ago to reduce crime following the housing boom of the 1960s-1980s when there was a huge demand for new housing.
Estates were built quickly and often cheaply with little consideration given to security with sky walkways and subways designed to keep pedestrians apart from the rapidly growing number of vehicles. This created an environment where escape routes were everywhere and anonymity was absolute. Crime increased, particularly burglary.
In response, the Police Service set up SBD to incorporate crime prevention into what’s called the ‘built environment’.
It’s been an exciting ride over the years and we have come a long way.
Along the road to helping communities
Today, SBD works in partnership with National and Local Government, British and European standards authorities, trade associations, the construction industry, manufacturers and many other organisations.
Together we work to reduce crime and the fear of crime by incorporating proven crime prevention techniques into new developments and major refurbishments.
Our work in local communities is carried out day-to-day by a network of more than 200 SBD trained police officers and staff in Police Forces across the country. These officers, known as Designing Out Crime Officers, work closely with architects, developers and local authority planners to design out crime at the drawing board stage.
This includes incorporating crime prevention measures into the layout and landscaping of new residential developments, such as to increase natural surveillance to ensure roads and footpaths are overlooked, and to limit excessive permeability, which means designing out alleyways and cut-throughs to reduce access points and hiding places.
In addition, we work to ensure crime prevention techniques are included in the physical security of buildings, so for example, they have doors, windows and locks that are attack resistant.
Our purpose is to create an environment where criminals risk being seen and where breaking into buildings is likely to take longer and be a noisy undertaking.
We do this work across a range of building sectors including housing, commercial, retail, mixed use, transport, health, education, sport, leisure and many others.
Among the most famous buildings, which incorporate SBD’s crime prevention principles, are the 2012 London Olympics site, the 2014 Commonwealth Games Village and Wembley Stadium.
Clear signs of crime reduction
Over the years, tens of thousands of residents have moved into new or refurbished homes designed to SBD crime prevention standards and continue to benefit from our high standards of security.
Independent academic research has shown that incorporating crime prevention measures into the layout and landscaping and physical security of new homes can reduce crimes like burglary by up to 75% compared to equivalent non-SBD developments. Evidence suggests that this figure is sustainable year-on-year and represents a significant reduction especially as most SBD developments are in social housing, many of which are in deprived areas.
Our Proficiency Certificate
We have created a Police Preferred Specification standard. This is important.
Whilst the Police Service is unable to recommend specific products, SBD can act as an effective gatekeeper and signpost people to our companies and their products that have met our security standards.
To achieve our Police Preferred Specification, we require products in markets where recognised quality standards exist, such as doors and windows, to be tested and certified by an independent, third-party UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) certification authority. The tests ensure they are sufficiently robust to resist physical attack by casual and opportunist criminals. Certification ensures regular re-testing of products and production audits. This means that the same physical standard and specification of the product tested originally is maintained over time.
In addition, our Police Preferred Specification can be awarded to a wide range of other products that serve to reduce crime for which there is no current recognised standard. These products go before an SBD review panel of experts, including professionals with many years of police experience.
SBD is the only way for companies to obtain police accreditation for their security products in the UK.
Companies that receive our accreditation can become SBD member companies and use our logo on their sales and marketing materials. Today, we have 650 member companies listed on our website for security products that have been accredited as meeting our Police Preferred Specification.
Keeping cyclists on the road
With the cost of cycles running into the hundreds and often many thousands of pounds, it will be no surprise to learn that we have many member companies that have products that will help cyclists keep their bikes secure.
However, it would be inappropriate for me to mention some company names, and not others. Our companies are all listed on our website along with the contact details of our local Designing Out Crime Officers, which are sometimes referred to as Crime Prevention Design Advisors (CPDAs) and Architectural Liaison Officers (ALOs). Visit: www.securedbydesign.com
The first line of defence is protecting the buildings where cycles are stored, such as in garages and sheds and we have many member companies that specialise in this marketplace.
Other companies offer devices that provide a further layer of security, such as ground anchors, chains and restraints, padlocks, D-locks and cable locks. Many of these products have Sold Secure status, and some have achieved Sold Secure Gold. We have also accredited companies that specialise in database registers and vehicle marking systems.
We have accredited other companies that specialise in protecting bicycles left secured in the street near businesses, shopping centres and transport hubs.
Moving forward with technology and innovation
The largest SBD accredited, street based secure, cycle storage facility I have seen is a few metres away from Leyton Underground Station in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Being invited to its official opening in May 2017, I saw for myself that its glass-based, steel framed structure over two floors, allowed every part of the interior to be visible from the street. Cyclists pay a small membership fee to use a key fob to gain entry through a specially designed toughened steel sliding door. It can accommodate up to 156 cycles.
Its other features include extensive use of toughened laminated glass, CCTV inside and outside, a help point to the council’s CCTV control unit and LED lighting on motion sensors. There is gas-assisted two-tier cycle storage to ease lifting, as well as repair stands with tools and air pumps provided to help cyclists get home.
At the launch, the local Council Leader pointed to the dozens of bicycles attached to street railings nearby, and said: “Five years ago you would not have seen any bikes there at all. Today, cycling is in a different place. It is how we see the future of moving around our borough.”
The building showed me clearly, that in the same way that Secured by Design has been on a journey, so too has cycling and the technology, innovation and clever thinking around it. It shows what partnership working can achieve when like-minded people and organisations come together to serve the public and do the right thing for local communities.
Please remember that the Police Service continues to urge members of the public to report crime and suspicious behaviour by calling 999 immediately.
Guest blog post by Guy Ferguson, CEO of Secured by Design
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