Summer break is within touching distance for primary schools, while the school doors are almost swinging in the wind already in the secondary school world. Has a summer break ever been wanted and needed as much!
With school corridors and yards soon to be deserted, there can be a misconception that this is the time of year when school property is least at risk. Obviously from a liability perspective that is true with staff and pupils not present. However summer holidays, and holiday periods in general, lead to schools being the target for motiveless destruction. We have seen a really significant increase in the number of schools contacting us with trespassing issues in the past year.
It is important for the school to pay attention to both internal and external security to ensure adequate protection when your school is closed.
The most common claims include:
- Malicious damage
- Vandalism to the premises
- Petty theft
- Theft following break in
School security protection falls into three categories, physical security, electronic security and general maintenance/housekeeping.
- Lock the property down where possible.
- Ensure doors, windows and gates are closed & locked when the property is vacant. This should be done throughout the year.
- Where schools have boundary fencing this should be maintained and if a section of the school boundary is susceptible to unauthorised access appropriate fencing should be considered.
- Strong rooms or safes may also need to be considered particularly if schools have a high number of target theft items. Target items are generally easily moveable, have a public or “street” demand and are of relatively high value. IT equipment such as iPads and petty cash are always top of the hit list.
- Rooms, other than strong rooms or rooms containing confidential information, should be left unlocked. When intruders gain access to the building they will generally cause even more damage to the property when rooms are locked. If the school has target items stored safely in a strong room or safe, then in reality the school isn’t protecting anything of high value or of interest to the intruders by locking room doors.
- While they are not a requirement of your insurance policy, intruder alarms, sensors, automatic lighting and CCTV have proven to be an excellent deterrent. Where schools have intruder alarms it is advisable for the alarm system to be centrally monitored thus allowing key holders and Gardai to be immediately informed of an activation. This feature is particularly important during the summer months when the premises are left unoccupied for longer periods than at other times of year.
- It is very important for schools to have a procedure in place in the event of an intruder alarm activation. Allianz strongly advise that when an intruder alarm activates, and that the key holder suspects there is an actual intruder on site, then under no circumstances should the key holder investigate any further or confront any potential intruder. They should immediately raise the alarm with the local Gardai.
Sometimes it can be the smallest or most basic of things that cause the most damage; carelessness is often a contributory factor to losses. Some examples are:
- Equipment not stored away attracting thieves.
- Leaving valuables lying around the classrooms/offices attracting thieves.
- Not closing windows and doors allowing easy access for intruders.
- Combustible waste left on the school grounds or wheelie bins left unsecured are set alight by vandals.
- Debris or building material (old blocks, tiles, poles etc.) left around the property used by vandals to cause damage or gain access.
- Electrical equipment such as computers not switched off causing fires.
- Old or neglected wiring or appliances not maintained causing fires.
You don’t want to give any unwanted guest a reason to enter the school grounds. It is commonly known that neglected or poorly secured buildings are more prone to vandalism, theft, and arson. We recommend you review security arrangements in order to better protect school property. The implementation of a security statement or checklist will allow the school focus on the important issues coming up to school holidays and give greater peace of mind when your school is closed. Further information is available in our “Guide to Insurance Safety and Security in the School” booklet .
In addition, trespassing has increased considerably during the restrictions. While the trespassing most schools are experiencing may not be sinister in nature and may simply seem like locals using facilities and playgrounds, you should bear in mind that it is bringing increased exposure to your school. Property Owners still owe a duty of care to trespassers, therefore any trespasser injured on the school premises could take a legal action against the school.
There are some simple steps your school can take to discourage such activity. We recommend:
- Erecting signage highlighting the school is private property, trespassing is prohibited and that trespassers will be prosecuted. Sample disclaimer wordings can be found under the resources section of our website, School Property Disclaimers.
- Issuing timely reminders to all pupils/parents that the school grounds should not be accessed outside of school hours e.g. around mid-term breaks and summer holidays or when there is increased incidents.
- Ensuring gates and other access points to school grounds are kept locked outside of school hours.
- Liaising with local Gardai to patrol the area occasionally if the issue persists.
If you wish to discuss any issues in particular please feel free to contact our School support team on 01 6133966* (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm) or through firstname.lastname@example.org. As always you can also contact your Local Allianz Representative to discuss. If you are insured through an insurance intermediary then please contact them directly for assistance.
*Calls may be recorded.