In early 2015, the ‘Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015’ became law. Under the new legislation, schools have a responsibility to actively participate in work that prevents their students from being drawn into terrorism. This involves working with numerous agencies to challenge extremist ideas and monitor pupil behaviour, with the ultimate goal of preventing any kind of terror attack before it happens.
However, while these provisions for schools are welcome and effective, the threat of terrorism in schools is still very real. If such a tragedy should occur, what steps should a school take to ensure the safety of its students and staff?
That’s where the ‘Dynamic Lockdown’ procedure comes into effect.
What is a dynamic lockdown procedure?
The ‘dynamic lockdown procedure’ was first introduced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office in November 2015. Dynamic lockdown refers to a school’s ability to quickly and seamlessly restrict access to a site or building via physical means. This means that if a terrorism incident should occur, lives could be saved by containing the perpetrator in a given part of the building or keeping unsuspecting innocent bodies out.
Naturally, dynamic lockdown is easier to achieve in some buildings rather than others, and that’s where the challenge lies for many schools.
Why should your school consider dynamic lockdown?
While it’s not law to have a dynamic lockdown procedure in place, it is strongly advised by the Government and anti-terrorism bodies. It’s designed to maximise the safety of your staff and pupils, and give peace of mind to parents in an age where acts of terror are sadly on the rise.
Those seeking to cause harm will usually find intelligent and well-thought out ways of infiltrating a school premises, usually with weapons or objects that can cause harm. A dynamic lockdown procedure can consist of a number of things that improve a school’s security posture, from elaborate CCTV solutions to active security zones and checkpoints – all of which act as a huge deterrent for anyone seeking to cause harm.
How do you achieve dynamic lockdown?
The first step to ensuring you have the ability to dynamically lock down your school is checking the access points. In this instance, access points are more than gates, doors and windows. Any point of entry, however unconventional, should be regarded as an access point.
You then need to work out how these access points may be secured at a moment’s notice. Automatic or manual locks should be present on all doors within the premises, enabling specific rooms to be sectioned off and secured. Remember to include staff in your plans as their actions could be pivotal in securing the building and getting students and other members of staff to safety as quickly as possible.
One of the reasons the NCTSO used the word ‘dynamic’ when introducing the procedure is that no two terrorism incidents are the same. Each school has its own layout and therefore its own set of unique challenges when it comes to a lockdown. One school may have numerous floors and lifts to deal with, whereas another school may have vast hallways and contained outside play areas. It’s therefore imperative that the procedure you choose to implement is flexible enough to cope with an array of situations.
It’s also important to let people know what’s happening during a lockdown procedure to avoid panic.
The first thing to note is that fire alarms should never be used in this situation. While it may seem like a convenient way to get to get the attention of the entire building, the last thing you need is people rolling their eyes at another fire drill when there’s a real emergency situation.
If possible, use a dedicated ‘lockdown’ alarm that staff and students will instantly recognise. Other options include the use of a PA system, or even an internal messaging system that alerts all staff on their phones/computers.
Spire Security are proud to be accredited to the most stringent international standards as recognised by the SSAIB. We have designed solutions that meet the requirements of the dynamic lockdown policy introduced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office in 2015.
We’re also Safecontractor approved to give our customers absolute peace of mind when it comes to the installation, monitoring and maintenance of all controlled access and CCTV systems.