A Guide to Physical Security

Check Insurance
Most insurance companies now insist on a specified level of physical security, detailed in your policy. Check the small print and if in doubt, write to your broker before it is too late. Some insurance companies will even offer a discount to secure premises or security surveys to ensure you obtain appropriate advice.


External doors must be compliant with and certified to BS PAS 24:2012, WCL2, or LPS 1175 SR2.

Any sliding doors should be tested and certified to ENV 1627-30 (WK2+). If circumstances could prevent this, please consult with Design for Security.

Any revolving doors should be tested and certified to ENV 1627-30 (WK2+). If circumstances could prevent this, please consult with Design for Security.

External escape-only doors (as with external doors in general) should be certified to BS PAS 24:2012, or LPS 1175 SR2. It is crucial that the door ironmongery is permitted for use on these doors under the security certification of the product.

Letterboxes within doors must be located a minimum of 400mm away from internal handle and locking hardware.

Garage or sectional overhead doors must be tested and certified to LPS 1175 SR2. If circumstances could prevent this, please consult with Design for Security.

Doors to individual offices and store rooms should have 44mm solid core doors, 3 hinges, with a mortised sash lock to BS3621/8621 to allow the rooms to be secured when not in use.


Mortise Locks
If you have wooden external doors to your property, you are advised to fit a mortise dead lock that needs a key to open it from either side of the door. If you choose one that conforms to British Standards (BS3621) or has at least 5 levers, this should be acceptable.

To disperse the force on a door when someone tries to kick it down, many people fit two mortise locks, widely spaced.

Check the door is thick enough to accept the locks and keep its strength, although it may be better to approach a qualified locksmith for advice.


Mortise bolts tend to be more secure than the tower bolts, which are embedded into the door and frame. With a mortise bolt one key fits all. When it is rotated in the keyhole it makes a bolt shoot out of the door itself into the door frame.

They are most effective when two are placed on a door, one near to the top and one near to the bottom.

The key can be used only on the inside of the door, put them on doors that you do not leave by.


Door Drop- Bars
Security devices can be specially made.

A metal girder can be dropped into a horizontal bracket on either side of the door – on the inside, of course. Although it is not normally necessary, this bar can be secured in position with padlocks. It could even be hinged so that anyone could move the heavy bar out of the way.


Fire Doors
Contrary to popular belief, it is usually permissible to fit additional locks to external fire doors. However, when the property is occupied a fire door must be capable of being opened in one quick and easy action. Your life may depend on it!

It is usually acceptable to fit extra locks on fire doors as long as you have an established system to ensure the extra locks are taken off when the first person enters the building and not replaced until the last person leaves.

To ensure that an additionally secured door is always safe, it is possible to secure the door with an electro-magnetic lock which pulls the door into the frame. These aren’t as unusual as they sound. They are quickly becoming a very common locking device used with most combination or card swipe mechanisms. The lock is linked into the fire alarm system so that when the fire alarm activates the power to the door is cut off and the door may be opened. If required, a separate push switch can be fitted near the door to allow easy access or egress.

It must be stressed that your personnel safety is more important than the safety of tangible assets. If you are in any doubt that you may be compromising the safety of your staff in the event of fire, obtain advice from your local fire officer.

Some fire doors may benefit from having a separate alarm fitted. Staff misuse of fire doors would then be discouraged.


Gated Doors
To improve the security of an external door, a metal gate could be fitted externally over the door. Similar to a traditional side gate from a house, the gate could offer some of the benefits of a roller shutter.


Roller Shutters
Shutters must be tested and certified to LPS 1175 SR2 (or SR1 if perforated laths are required), and installed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Dependent on the individual criminal risk to your premises, it may be appropriate to fit metal security shutters.

The consequences of fitting shutters should be explored from every aspect before a decision is made. For example, shutters may be prohibited by local authority planning requirements; they may restrict prospective sales to “window shoppers”; they may restrict the public from actually seeing a burglar in the premises; oppressive shutters may, if everyone fitted them, curb legitimate use of the area due to a perceived fear of crime – especially if they become a target for graffiti.

A shutter on the inside of a display window can be more effective than one placed on the outside, due to the fact that the breaking of the glass would activate the alarm before the shutter is forced. However, if it is the window itself that has to be protected from damage then the type of shutter, and its placement, would need to be reconsidered.

Carefully consider the type of locking mechanism fitted. Most shutters would benefit from additional padlocks fitted along the bottom of the shutter, about every 6 to 10 feet.

All shutters should have an alarm contact fitted so that the alarm is activated at the first moment a burglar tries to gain entry.


Windows must be compliant with and certified to BS PAS 24:2012 or BS 7950.

Ground floor and easily accessible opening windows (escape requirements permitting) must be key-lockable, and have fixed/lockable opening restrictors (not releasable from the outside) limited to 100mm.


Window Locks
To obtain the correct type of lock for a wooden framed window, try to choose the sort which does not involve any of the window catches. The type of lock that pulls the window into the frame with a key are normally stronger. They may even stop a person forcing the window open or leaning through a smaller window to undo it.

If the opening section of the window is quite large, fit two window locks. Window locks can be supplied and fitted by a locksmith, but most types can be fitted by anybody who can use a screwdriver.

Self-locking window locks are a little more expensive than other types, but may be more convenient to use on windows which are frequently opened and closed (canteen or lavatory windows etc).

Louvre windows on the ground floor should generally be avoided. If you cannot replace a louvre window, consult a glazing firm who may be able to secure each pane of glass in each frame with strong adhesive.


Remember that windows of upper floors are vulnerable to a climbing burglar and one who brings ladders.

Bars should be to standard LPS 1175. There is now a wide range of commercially produced “bar” systems designed to protect a window. They range from simple steel bars like something from a prison cell, to subtle folding systems in a variety of colours and finishes which only become obvious when in use. Some businesses have non-oppressive designs fabricated especially for them, incorporating their company logo or name.

Some systems may be folded out of the way, or even removed, when not in use, although this may become a chore that doesn’t always get done.

Such protection does not have to be oppressive – they can even be painted white or made a feature (most cathedrals used ornate designs to successfully protect windows).


Double Glazing Standards
If choosing double glazed windows, it may be preferable to check to see that it is not just the handle that stops a window from opening. Many windows use a number of bolts coming out of the opening frame into the fixed frame, operated when the handle is turned. You should need a key to unlock the window.

Whether your window unit is glazed from the inside or outside you should be satisfied that the glass cannot be removed without it being broken. A good glazier familiar with UPVC frames should be able to secure existing externally beaded frames.

Fitting extra locks to UPVC or aluminium framed doors is usually beyond the DIY amateur. If the door does not lock along its full length, consult a glazier or locksmith for advice, or ask them if they can do the job.

It is advisable to check with the company which installed the double glazing before fitting any additional locks to windows or doors. Unauthorised fitting may invalidate the guarantee.


Glazing to a height of 2400mm (or if otherwise accessible) must incorporate at least one pane of laminated glass rated as P4A under EN 356. The remaining pane in a double glazed unit may be toughened glass.

Laminated glass is preferable to toughened glass, for security and safety. When broken, toughened glass breaks into many small pieces over the entire pane of glass. Laminated glass will break as normal glass, but will hold in place in the window, slowing down a burglar from entering, or stopping a child from cutting him or herself. The thicker panes of laminate glass are often called “unbreakable”.

Georgian wired glass is not a security glass – it is designed for fire resistance.

Polycarbonate, a “plastic” type of glazing material, is unbreakable during normal use. However, the disadvantages are that most types can be easily scratched and usually discolour with age.

Specialist contractors can fit a security film to most types of existing glazing. Apart from affording protection from burglars and bomb blasts, these can often pay for themselves through energy efficiency.


Doors – Internal Commercial
Secure rooms: doors should be certified to BS PAS 24:2012, WCL2, or LPS 1175 SR2.

Locking internal doors while you are away from the business can sometimes stop a burglar from going further into the property, but in other instances the locking of an internal door can result in a lot more damage if the door is smashed down.


As with exterior doors consider the strength of the wood in the door and how well the door frame is secured before fitting any lock or bolt.

Don’t leave spare keys for your windows and doors about the building. All keys that have to be used during the normal working day should be retained in a secure cabinet designed for that purpose.

There should be strict control of who borrows keys, a trusted employee allocating only that specific key.

It may be appropriate for your business to use only security keys – keys which can be copied only by a designated locksmith under proper authorisation.

Never leave keys in the door locks. This makes it easy for a burglar to unlock them and remove larger items from your property.


Walls & Roofs
Although it is often not very cost effective to replace roofs or walls, weak sections, especially in some modern industrial units, may need additional protection. Walls can be made more secure by cladding internally.

Roofs can be made more secure by incorporating deep eaves. Guttering should be recessed or flush faced. Attempts to gain access to roof voids by removing a few tiles can be prevented by fixing expanded metal to the topside of rafters. In some cases it may be possible to protect the roof void by fixing coiled barbed tapes within that space. Bolt all ceiling hatches from below.

In addition, give consideration to extending your Burglar Alarm into the roof void and internal wall areas.


Post Boxes
Letter boxes give easy access for the both the determined arsonist and the prankster to fire a building.

Specially constructed post boxes are available which are separate from the building. Some now have heat sensors and fire extinguishers incorporated.


If you wish to protect items of high value, check with your insurance company first to see if they recommend any particular type of safe.

Some safes appear cheap to purchase, but are very difficult to fit. Discussing your needs with a qualified locksmith will help.


Smoke Generating Units (Standard EN 50131-8)
Systems are now available that fill an area with thick smoke in seconds when an intruder is detected, making it impossible to see for more than a half a metre.

These systems are designed to keep an intruder out of a building rather than trap a burglar inside.

This type of security device is constantly being improved. There are now several “types” of smoke making it possible to install these devices in most environments without it damaging your property or stock.


Further advice can be obtained from the manufacturers, or approved alarm companies.

With all this security some people worry about escaping from a fire. Good security is designed to stop burglars getting in, not people getting out. Burglars want to operate quietly without being seen, whereas if there was a fire you want everybody to see and hear you.

Fire prevention may be a requirement in law, although it is obviously within everyone’s interest to make sure they are safe. If in any doubt whatsoever, always take expert advice.

Remember to be safe as well as secure.


Remember that whenever considering the use of any external protection, consideration should be given to any Local Authority planning permission requirements.

Your local Planning Department will offer advice before costly mistakes are made.


This article is from ‘A Guide To Business Security‘ produced by Greater Manchester Police.