Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Secured by Design


I am writing from the police crime prevention initiative, Secured by Design, to offer our insight on the role that security measures play in improving the quality of housing and the impact minimum requirements for security could have on the private rented sector. We note the Committee’s active work in this area, and believe that physical security of building stock is of equal importance to security of tenure in ensuring residents feel safe in their homes.

As you will be aware, the private rented sector is a vital part of the UK’s housing mix and the majority of landlords provide decent and secure accommodation for tenants. However, there are a minority of operators in the sector who do not meet the standards expected of tenants, other landlords and third parties. Unfortunately, it is often those residents living in poor private housing who have the least power or financial capacity to call for improvements. We believe that the security of a home is an important factor in ensuring the overall quality of housing, but all too often this is overlooked. Moreover, our view is that a minimum security level should form part of a mandated standard for all housing, and expected of all landlords operating in the private rented sector. Our concern is that a voluntary code would only be adopted by already conscientious landlords, and not those landlords with properties most in need of improvement. However, in adopting a mandatory standard this cost should not of course fall to renters to fund, but landlords themselves.

By way of background, Secured by Design is a flagship initiative with the objective of designing out crime during the planning process and can be retrofitted to existing housing stock. We believe that residents have the right to feel safe in their homes, and security standards are about ensuring this is a consideration in both the planning process and retrospectively. In fact, independent research has shown that homes with low level security suffer 75% more burglaries than those with realistic Secured by Design level security, while criminal damage is also reduced by 25%.

Secured by Design is open to all sections of the construction industry provided they meet the security standards in our project. The scheme is self funded by our accreditation of a range of security products which can be shown to meet standards and reduce crime. Any surplus is reinvested in research and crime prevention projects across the country. There is no obligation on builders or architects to use these particular products, many of which are not related to construction. Notably, Secured by Design standards can be added through refurbishments meaning that the standard can be applied retrospectively to the existing private rented sector stock at limited cost.

As you will know, low-income families and vulnerable residents often face poor standards in the private rented sector, and subsequently are often more likely to be impacted by crime. In fact, the evidence demonstrates that residents who aren’t offered security recommendations after a burglary are 69% more likely to suffer a repeat incident than those who are offered advice, meaning that residents are more likely to experience repeat victimisation. We believe that this is unacceptable, particularly as low-income and vulnerable residents often residing in the private rented sector are often less able to replace goods stolen or damaged during this activity.

We appreciate that agreeing to minimum standards may be perceived as costly to landlords; however in reality this is not the case. An independent assessment conducted in 2010 showed the additional cost of Secured by Design standards in the average home is just £170, and it estimated that installations pay for themselves in no more than 2 years, and in some cases as little as 8 months. I hope the committee will agree that this would not provide too great a burden for private rented landlords to adopt.

We have already taken steps by discussing our security standards with the National Landlords Association who agree that Secured by Design is a good scheme and will be signposting members to our research and presenting information to their members locally. Moreover, we are aware that some councils are considering licensing schemes to improve the private rented sector in their communities. We will be contributing to these consultations to articulate the importance of including security measures in proposals and how this could be achieved in practice.

We would be delighted to assist the Communities and Local Government Select Committee in any way possible and are keen to present oral evidence on this matter. Further details of the breadth of our project can be found at which includes research papers and advice to the general public on security.

January 2013

Secured by Design Case StudyNottingham City Homes

What is “Secured by Design” (SBD)?

SBD is a flagship industry-UK Police initiative to design out crime through accreditation of security products and standards in the planning process.

Designing out crime reduces the vulnerability of a property to crime by removing opportunities that may be provided inadvertently by the built environment through a range of criteria such as better lighting.

The initiative is entirely self funded via the accreditation scheme which includes over 450 members with 1,000 security products, such as doors, locks and roofing thoroughly tested to meet our standards.

For example, the Olympic Village and Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre were both built to SBD standards, ensuring that the structures are sustainable and a safe environment for visitors.

Our direct experience and knowledge of the factors impacting crime, policing and crime prevention make SBD a standard which is respected by the security industry, local authorities and professional bodies.

Nottingham City Homes

In 2008–09 the council installed Secured by Design (SBD) standard double glazing windows and new doors as part of Nottingham’s Secure, Warm, Modern scheme, the city’s Decent Homes programme

The estates consisted of 1,717 NCH properties and 1,333 non-NCH properties, with NCH properties experiencing a higher level of burglaries than non-NCH prior to the secure work

Following the work, Nottingham City Homes (NCH) and Nottingham Trent University conducted a two- year impact study on the benefits of the work, comparing crime rates and perceptions before and after


Prior to secure work, Bells Lane and Broxtowe estates suffered 227 burglaries; following the work analysis demonstrated a 42% reduction in the number of burglaries occurring

While the city as a whole saw burglaries decrease from 4,631 to 3,639, a reduction of 21%, this fall was significantly smaller compared to areas of secure work

Following the completion of secure work, the gap between the level of burglaries at NCH and non-NCH properties shrunk, with 62 less burglaries per year at NCH properties and 33 fewer at non-NCH properties

Prior to having new windows installed, one third of survey respondents said they felt unsafe alone in their home at night. Following the work, none of these people expressed concern.

What can we learn from Nottingham City Homes?

Secured by Design can drive down crime rates in your community not only in new builds, but retrofits too

Security standards improve public perception of crime and residents’ physical and emotional wellbeing

Policing and individual costs of crime are reduced, freeing up funds and resources to tackle other issues

The benefits of secured by design are felt across an area, not just within estate benefiting directly

Can “Secured by Design” work in other locations?

Yes, we have seen improvements across the UK through improved planning and implementation of our endorsed security standard products

SBD estates in West Yorkshire outperformed the region as a whole on burglary dwellings offences, between August 2007 and July 2008 there were 19,701 burglaries, but just two at SBD properties

In Glasgow, research demonstrated that total housebreaking crime fell by 26% while attempted housebreaking decreased by 59% at properties with new SBD doors and windows

Prepared 16th July 2013