As a board of trustees, you must take steps to ensure your school is secure. Having good security will reduce vandalism and theft, and give staff and students a safe environment. You can do your own security risk assessment or you can use security consultants. They can also help you put together a security risk management plan and policy.
- Create a security risk management plan
- Manage high risk areas
- Develop a security policy
- Record security incidents
- Use security guards and patrols
Creating a security risk management plan involves identifying security risks at your school and planning how to reduce these risks.
There are several steps to creating a security risk management plan.
1. Audit and assess your security risks
Assessing your school’s security risks will guide your decision-making around what security measures to put in place. Knowing your risks will help you identify and prioritise actions your school can take to deter vandals and thieves.
Get a Ministry assessment:
We can provide a security assessment that is tailored to your school if your school:
- is in vandalism risk category E, or
- has applied for vandalism top-up funding for 3 consecutive years.
Get a Ministry-funded formal security audit:
We may pay for a formal security audit if your school has suffered damage to your buildings and other facilities through arson.
For a tailored assessment or formal audit, talk to your property advisor.
Do your own security audit:
If your school is not eligible for a tailored assessment or formal audit, you can do your own audit.
Use the Risk Management Planning Tool to review all the areas in a school that could pose security risks, and to help you develop your risk management plan.
Use a security consultant:
You can use a security consultant to audit your security. They can also help you choose and arrange instalment of your security system.
Your security consultant must be:
- licensed under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974 (New Zealand Legislation website) (external link)
- a member of a professional body such as the New Zealand Institute of Architects or the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand.
Ask your property advisor about security consultants in your area. Use one with experience and competency in the security industry.
Make sure they do your audit within the school security audit specifications [DOC, 31 KB].
They will prepare a school security audit report; see an example of a school security audit report [DOC, 115 KB].
2. Rank the security issues
Rank the risks identified in the audit in their order of importance.
3. Write your security risk management plan
Develop a security risk management plan to minimise the risks you identified in your audit or assessment. Your plan needs to reflect:
- the character of your school
- your school’s needs
- the school community’s needs.
A security risk management plan for a suburban school will be very different from a plan for a rural school.
4. Put together a security policy
The best time to put together a security policy is after the security audit and risk management planning exercise. The purpose of a security policy is to have effective procedures in place to manage your security. You may want to work with your security consultant on the policy.
Read more about what your security policy should cover.
5. Monitor and review your plan and policy
Your security risks will change with time. At some stage, you may need to do a new security audit and plan. At the least, you should:
- review your risk management plan at least once a year using the security risk management planning tool
- monitor any security incidents so you can quickly respond to risk changes
- assess the costs and plan for any work needed to improve your security as a result of your review
- update your security policy so that everyone understands any changes.
If your school has many buildings, and several entrance and exit points, people could enter your school grounds or buildings without being seen. For example, through:
- internal courtyards
- blind spaces where buildings meet
- alleyways and alcoves.
You can manage this by blocking off dead-ends and alleyways with fences or gates.
Relocatable buildings are sometimes tucked away from the main school. Make sure they:
- are visible from other classrooms and from the street
- have good lighting around them
- have clearly marked paths to them
- have the space under them closed off.
Make sure bike racks are covered and can be seen from classrooms and the administration area.
Boundaries and your neighbourhood
Having clearly marked school boundaries increases the sense of ownership felt by students, staff and neighbours.
Know your neighbourhood. Things that could affect your security are:
- the distance to community facilities, like the shopping area
- whether you’re on a main road or a side road
- whether there are any local gangs.
Having good relationships with your neighbours, including local businesses and community organisations, means that they’ll be more likely to raise the alarm if there’s a problem.
Make sure neighbours can see into the school grounds.
Being part of a neighbourhood support programme
Some schools are part of their local Neighbourhood Watch programme, which encourages people in the neighbourhood to report any problems in the school grounds.
If you are interested in being part of this kind of programme, contact your local crime prevention officer. To find out more, go to the New Zealand Police website or the Neighbourhood Support website (external link) .
Think about the ways people enter and exit your school. Identify any security risks and have a policy on how to manage them.
Make sure your entrances and exits are clearly marked. Having a single main entrance could help monitor who comes and goes. Make sure it is clear where visitors can go and park.
If your school has issues with unauthorised access or children who run away, you could close all other exits when they aren’t being used.
Mark public access ways and put up signs, perhaps with maps to guide people in the right direction.
Develop your security policy to identify who is responsible for security and to put security management procedures in place.
Have a visitor policy with clear rules around how people enter, where they walk and park, and whether they can use the school after hours.
Ideas for your visitor policy include:
- having signs telling visitors to go to the administration office
- asking visitors to sign in and give their reason for visiting
- providing visitor identification tags so they are identifiable to the staff and students
- telling parents about the visitor policy
- training school staff about greeting and guiding visitors to the administration office
- using CCTV cameras to monitor entrances
- putting visitor parking next to the main entrance and administration office.
Vehicle access policy
Have clear rules around vehicle access. This could include:
- ensuring each parking area has a single, controlled entrance
- closing entrances that are unsupervised or aren’t used very often
- having separate entrances for staff, students and visitors
- putting up signs at entrances advising people of parking conditions and towing rules.
Pedestrian access policy
Put up a physical barrier between pedestrian walkways and driveways. You could do this using:
- safety islands
- landscaping features, such as gardens
- lights or outside furniture.
After-hours access policy
Your school is not ‘public property’ but is part of the community, and you may want to allow people to use it after hours. Many schools are happy to have their facilities, like the playing fields, used because it encourages community surveillance. This involves balancing the community’s access with the possible risks.
To manage security risks of after-hours access, have a policy about:
- making sure the areas available for use are clearly defined
- making sure people cannot access the administration or classroom areas
- having a dedicated public entrance to the areas available for use
- having car parks in view of the school buildings
- having good lighting in parking and drop-off areas
- having security lighting and CCTV
- having an after-hours policy to cover issues like keys, contacts and emergency procedures.
Regular use of buildings and grounds must have an agreement with the school. See leasing to third parties for more information.
Another matter to consider about after-hours use is your responsibility for the health and safety of people on the school site. You are not responsible for the health and safety of trespassers but you may find yourself responsible for the health and safety of after-hours visitors. The extent of your responsibilities will depend on the purpose of the visit. You can learn more about your health and safety obligations to visitors (external link) .
Equipment security policy
Have a policy about keeping school equipment secure, for example by:
- attaching computers, monitors and DVD players to the furniture or building
- locking away laptops and other small items overnight
- making sure expensive items aren’t visible through windows
- removing data projectors from the ceiling, where they can be seen from outside
- deliberately marking equipment so it’s less desirable for thieves
- marking equipment, for example by engraving it, using a ‘blue light’ pen or placing micro dots on it – micro-dotting gives the item a number that is registered on an online database and can be read by police.
Putting stickers on the item saying it has security protection will deter thieves.
You have to keep a register of all furniture and equipment. For more information, go to accounting and recording requirements for furniture and equipment.
Secure rubbish bins and skips policy
Bins and skips can be used to stand on to get into buildings.
Think about having a zero-waste policy and removing bins altogether. If you don’t want to remove bins, you should:
- place bins away from buildings
- make sure bins are empty at night and at weekends so they can’t be used to start fires
- lock bin liners to the outside part of the bin
- make sure skips with wheels cannot be used as battering rams to get into buildings.
Staff training policy
Think about training staff as part of your security policy. Contact local security firms or training organisations to set this up.
You should also:
- include security in inductions for new staff
- remind staff of their security responsibilities.
Keep a record of any crime, vandalism, trespass, arson and other security incidents. Have an incident log. Make sure it has:
- accurate information, including precise times, events and people involved
- a standard way of classifying each incident
- a record of what the incident cost the school, such as the cost of replacing something or of fixing property.
This information will be extremely helpful when you audit and plan your security. It will also help you:
- see which incidents are more common
- see any patterns
- identify any times or the day, week or term when incidents are more likely to happen
- see if some locations are target areas
- see if some kinds of equipment are more likely to be targeted.
We may fund you for short-term security for:
- spates of vandalism
- serious incidents.
If you need security guards, contact the property advisor at your local Ministry office.
If you want permanent security guards and security patrols, you need to pay for them yourself. Schools sometimes employ companies to do random patrols of 3 visits a night for 5 minutes each.
Find out about the range of measures you can use to increase security at your school such as fencing, lighting, security systems combined with burglar alarms, CCTV and patrols: security design in schools.
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