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UK Schools Warned Over Anticipated Crime Wave


As the UK endures an unprecedented heat wave, specialist insurer Ecclesiastical has issued a warning to schools that, as they close their doors for the summer recess, they could become attractive targets for criminals over the coming weeks and months.

With over 130 years experience in providing the best available insurance services for churches, organisations and individuals, Ecclesiastical insurance understands the importance of security and protection. They have reported an increase in schools being targeted by criminals as we move into summer. Offences have included vandalism, arson, smashed windows, break-ins, burglary and the theft of valuable roofing lead.

As the cost of living soars and with COVID-19 restrictions lifted they have issued a warning to schools across the UK to take precautions against an anticipated crime wave.

School Vulnerability

Criminals know that schools are far more vulnerable during the summer recess when buildings are closed and remain largely unoccupied. They know there are many resellable items such as laptops and teaching equipment. But, as metal prices increase, many organised crime gangs specifically target metals such as lead, copper and stainless steel, commonly used as roof coverings, along with copper lightning conductors, pipes and even iron school gates.

Ecclesiastical insurance recommends schools take adequate precautions to protect their premises and secure their valuable assets.

How to Protect Your School from Metal Theft

The following security recommendations will help protect properties from metal thieves. Practical security measures involve a combination of both physical and electronic security tactics.

  • Install CCTV cameras and lighting.
    • Security lighting and CCTV cameras trained onto valuable roofing, in combination with appropriate warning signage, will be enough to deter most opportunist criminals.
  • Security mark all metal and valuable items.
    • Forensic security marking, using products like Smartwater, deters theft and helps return stolen items to their rightful owners.
  • Cut back vegetation and don’t provide any concealed areas.
    • Criminals like to work unseen, so take precautions not to provide concealed areas by cutting back vegetation.
  • Don’t leave wheelie bins or water butts where they might be used to gain access.
    • Opportunist criminals look-out for readily available items they can use to break into buildings, such as ladders, outdoor furniture, wheelie bins and water butts.
  • Securely lock away any items that can be used to transport stolen metal.
    • As noted, thieves will use whatever they can find to perpetuate their crimes. That’s why it`s important to lock away all items they might use to carry stolen roofing metal such as ladders, wheelbarrows, wheelie bins and trolleys.
    • Consider using wheelie bin locks to prevent misuse.
  • Be extra careful when building works are in progress.
    • Scaffolding and builders tools are a gift to burglars. That’s why it`s vital to take extra precautions when building work is in progress.
    • Make certain all tools are securely locked away.
    • Remove ladders - or install ladder guards.
    • Install fencing around the scaffolding to prevent access.
    • Use a scaffolding alarm system.
  • Routinely check rooftops for damage or intrusion.
    • It`s important to routinely inspect rooftops, especially those using metal, for damage and evidence of intrusion.
    • Low-cost drone aircraft can help in carrying out rooftop inspections.
  • Engage with local police.
    • It`s important to make certain local police officers are aware of when schools break up for the summer.
    • Ensure they know about the school’s security concerns and any vulnerabilities.
    • And ask them to include the school premises in their regular patrols.
  • Engage with the local community.
    • Asking neighbours to look out for any suspicious activity and reporting it to the police is a valuable tactic.
    • It can also be useful to let local people know when permitted building works are scheduled to take place around the school premises.
  • Bolster perimeter security.
    • Recognise that the security of school premises starts at the perimeter.
    • Thoroughly inspect the existing fences, walls, hedges and gates surrounding the school and make certain there are no weaknesses.
    • Consider installing non-aggressive anti-climb protection to prevent intruders from gaining access or climbing onto rooftops.
  • Apply anti-climb paint.
    • Anti climb paint is a highly effective, low cost security solution that prevents people from climbing walls, posts and poles.
    • Paint must be applied above a height of 2 metres and appropriate warning signage must be displayed.
  • Install anti climb downpipe covers.
    • Robust, steel downpipe covers are another low cost security enhancement that prevents exterior pipework from being used to climb buildings and gain access to rooftops and/or upper storey windows.

Low Cost School Security Solutions

Unfortunately, when school budgets are tight, property security can be one of the casualties. But luckily there are some highly effective and widely appreciated security tactics that will not break the bank.

Anti Climb Paint

Anti climb paint is also known as anti-intruder paint and anti-vandal paint because that`s what it does. It`s widely recognised and promoted as the most cost effective, long lasting way to deter and prevent people from climbing where they are not wanted.

anti climb paint with warning sign
Insight Security Anti Climb Paint with Warning Sign

Our anti-climb paint, specially formulated for Insight Security, is the best on the market. It is entirely non-toxic, containing no hazardous ingredients.

It`s a non-setting paint that remains very slippery making it impossible to climb any surfaces on which it`s applied. And it`s super-easy to apply using a stiff brush or rag.

Typically it’s used on walls, poles, fences and drainpipes around schools and other premises. As previously noted, it must be installed above a height of 2 metres as the fact that it doesn’t set hard means it can be transferred onto people’s clothes. It`s important to display appropriate warning signage wherever the paint is deployed, which helps deter intruders.

Anti Climb Downpipe Covers

Robust steel anti climb downpipe or drainpipe covers are another highly effective yet low cost security solution, widely deployed to prevent thieves from using drainpipes to scale walls to reach targeted rooftops. These tough covers simply encase exterior pipework making it impossible to climb. They also provide protection to exposed pipework which can be inadvertently damaged by vehicles.

downpipe covers
Painted Downpipe Covers with Roller Barrier - Protecting Scbool`s Flat Roof

Downpipe covers have long been used in high security environments such as prisons and police stations but they are now being more widely employed by commercial organisations, hospitals, schools and around private homes. Many are installing our steel drainpipe covers not only to improve security but to also enhance the aesthetic appearance of buildings.

Non-Aggressive Roller Barrier Anti Climb Solution

When considering security solutions for schools, churches and other institutional or commercial premises the possibility of causing harm to anyone who comes into contact with selected security devices must be borne in mind. This is why schools and others are increasingly opting for our entirely safe yet incredibly effective non-aggressive Roller Barrier anti climb system.

roller barrier school buildings
Double Row Roller Barrier Providing Safe, Effective Anti Climb Protection

Roller Barrier works by presenting an unstable, rotating barrier that can’t be climbed over. Many schools and other institutions have now deployed Roller Barrier to protect their premises. Importantly, Roller Barrier provides an effective barrier to prevent people (pupils) from climbing onto rooftops. Many schools have low level buildings with flat roofs which can often be irresistibly attractive to adventurous youngsters. But when they climb onto these rooftops they put themselves and others at risk and simply walking on the flat rooftops can cause damage, allowing moisture to penetrate which then causes even more damage and expense.

Roller Barrier installation can be readily customised to deal with specific anti climb challenges. For example, if there are school buildings that youngsters like to climb, Roller Barrier can be deployed to protect those rooftops. Or if the school gates are sometimes climbed by out-of-hours intruders, Roller Barrier can be deployed to stop people climbing over the gates.

When installing anti climb devices it`s important to always display appropriate warning signage which in itself acts as a powerful anti-intruder deterrent.

If you have any questions about how to affordably enhance school security or if you have any specific anti-climb or security needs remember that we have the experience and resources to help you. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide free, expert advice.

This message was added on Wednesday 20th July 2022

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