Theft and vandalism can be common occurrences in our leisure and sports facilities, but with adequate planning and security measures in place, risks can easily be minimised. Here, Dr Steffan George, the association’s development director, shares his thoughts and advice:
Sports and leisure facilities have a high footfall and often a lot of different uses, so it’s difficult, but vital, that security measures and safety checks are thorough. Late summer is an ideal time to review security and safety in preparation for the winter months.
Be security diligent
Firstly, inspect doors and windows to make sure appropriate locks are fitted, are in good condition and meet insurance requirements. Ensure you have appropriate locks or padlocks on any outbuildings especially any that contain groundsmen’s equipment.
Assess damage to the building and put any necessary work into action as soon as possible. When repair work is taking place, remember not to leave any tools around that would-be thieves could to use to break in.
Ensure good quality locks are installed on the main entrance, clubhouse and dressing-rooms. Master key systems can be a great idea for facilities that are used by a number of key holders and allow you to limit access to the certain areas of the building. With a master key, staff and key holders can have access to the handful of rooms they require, while the master key holder can open all locks with a specially configured key. An alternative option would be an electronic access control system which could add the ability to have full audit control and see who went where and when.
Windows are equally as important, especially those on the ground floor and at the back of the building. Consider using thick, laminated glass which is difficult to break and if additional safety measures are required, shutters and grilles can be a helpful deterrent.
If parts of the building are used by different clubs, staff or community groups, it’s important to ensure this poses as minimal a risk as possible to the security of the building. An access policy is a good idea, with clear security instructions covering alarms, access routes and times, and the management of keys.
Make sure to keep valuable items out of sight, away from doors or windows. Install lockers or safe deposit box in staff areas and dressing-rooms to help keep valuable items safe. As far as possible limit the number of people who have access to the keys for these areas.
Grounds and the perimeter
Site boundaries are a vital security tool and a useful visual deterrent, but one that is often overlooked. Where possible, and if funds allow, build perimeter fencing. Once installed, check fencing regularly to ensure it is fully intact with no bolts, hinges, handles or damaged sections which could work as footholds for easy access.
Planting is another aspect which is often overlooked in terms of security. Large or overgrown trees or shrubbery can provide unnecessary areas of cover for intruders and lead to blind spots on CCTV coverage. On the flip side however, thorny plants can make it more difficult /uncomfortable for would be thieves to move through. Invest in good lighting, visible cameras and alarms to act as a deterrent to would-be-intruders and give you peace of mind. Cameras should cover the reception area and the rear of property
As well as protecting sports and leisure facilities from thieves and arsonists, it’s important to ensure health and safety standards are met too.
Ensure you know the difference between fire doors and emergency exit doors and make sure those fitted, and their hardware meet regulations. This is vital for insurance as well as safety. Fire doors are designed to compartmentalise a building in the event of a fire and potentially protect an escape route from fire, whereas emergency exit doors must allow swift escape from a building in the event of an emergency. If you’re at all unsure, contact an approved MLA Locksmith who will be able to provide help and advice.
If the worst does happen, be prepared. Have an action plan for emergency situations including a means of raising the alarm and adequately trained first-aiders. Ensure everyone knows what the action plan involves.
If unsure about any of the above, or if you would like a professional to take a look just to be sure, we advise you contact a vetted MLA locksmith and ask for a full safety and security assessment.