Risk Management

Risk Management Advisories

VANDALISM AND ARSON PREVENTION

Arson and vandalism claims represent at large segment of OSBIE property losses, as well as a large portion of losses below School board deductibles. Since these losses are the result of human behaviour, there are steps that can be taken to help avoid such losses. Actions taken that are based on such principles found in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), or similar programs can be utilized to help make schools safe and secure from negative activity. 

Strategies that can be used to help prevent arson and vandalism losses include:

  1. Surveillance
  2. Access Control
  3. Territorial Reinforcement
  4. Target Hardening

Surveillance

Surveillance includes natural, mechanical and organizational surveillance.

Natural Surveillance

  • Trees should be trimmed up to 7' and shrub down to 3'.
  • Good fenestration - The use of windows and doors to give the impression of being watched
  • Good housekeeping and maintenance
  • Clear views from main entrances or offices to exterior of building, and entrances

Mechanical Surveillance

  • Proper lighting in and around school (parking lots, entrances) - High Pressure Sodium lights or Metal Halide
  • Lighting can also be used in the reverse - by turning lights off in buildings you can deter malfeasants (undesirable people) from loitering in the area after dark
  • Closed circuit cameras

Organizational Surveillance

  • Security patrols, Hall monitors (Student or adult)
  • Neigbourhood/School Watch Programs
  • Crime Stoppers, Student Crime Stoppers

Access Control

Access control is based on decreasing crime opportunities by denying access to targets and creating a perception of risk to offenders. This can be done through clearly indicating areas that are for public use and what areas are private.

  • Restricted access to private areas by using structural elements i.e. fencing or gates.
  • Well defined public entrances and exits.
  • Entrances not to be used by the public are locked or inaccessible.
  • Proper signage of entrances and exits, clear definition.

Territorial Reinforcement

Territoriality can be shown through physical design to create or extend a sphere of influence. Features that define property lines and distinguish private spaces from public spaces promote territorial reinforcement. An important principle behind territoriality is that people will protect areas that they feel is their own and have a certain respect for the territory of others.

  • Clearly defined borders between private and public properties - i.e. with fencing or low lying vegetation (harsh vegetation is good for this i.e. holly).
  • Maintenance - good maintenance is important as it shows others that you care for your property and thus they too should care for it - "Broken Window Theory" - if the owner does not care for the property, why should anyone else?
  • Transitional zones between public and private areas. Changes in landscaping, pavement, fencing and signage.

Target Hardening

Target hardening is another important aspect to a good crime prevention strategy. It is based on the fact that malfeasants want to be able to commit a crime in the easiest and most efficient way possible. By hardening the target, you basically are making it harder for the malfeasant to commit the act in a short period of time. Target hardening involves taking steps to make your building harder to penetrate through such things as locks and increased security features.

  • Ensure that all exterior doors and their frames are sufficiently strong enough to withstand an attack (use of dead bolts, large strike plates and escutcheon plates).
  • Ensure that ground floor windows are reinforced with burglar resistant glazing or film.
  • Ensure that indoor locks cannot be reached and opened should a window in or beside a door get broken (the lock must be at least 1 m or 40 inches from the window opening).
  • Exterior lighting in good condition and operational.
  • Security/Camera and/or Alarm Systems
  • Interior doors locked on rooms holding valuable equipment (i.e. computers).

The above noted techniques are best used together, however can be implemented on their own. By making your building safe and secure through these principles you can help deter vandalism and arson. Ideally these principles should be implemented in the planning stages of your building, thus making it more cost effective than retrofitting your building. Principles such as those listed above can be cost effective and simple if being implemented after a building is already built and being used. All it may take is to turn on or off lights to stop a malfeasant from committing an act of vandalism.

In order for these principles to remain effective it is important that they are maintained. For instance if your school has a problem with graffiti it should be cleaned off as soon as it is seen, giving the impression that the owner cares for their premises. Also it adds to natural surveillance – heightening the perceived risk for the perpetrator to be seen or caught.

(REVISED 2015) E&OE
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