Maximum security

Russell Hand, head of product management and technical at Rehau Windows, looks at what can be done to help householders feel more secure, and discusses the opportunities for fenestration professionals.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), domestic burglaries in England and Wales fell significantly during the first lockdown, with a drop of 72% from March 23 to May 13, 2020. However, while stay-at-home orders helped reduce burglaries, the reopening of venues means home-based thefts could reach pre-pandemic levels as people spend more time outside their homes.

Immediate post-pandemic statistics appear to validate this concern. The BBC, for example, has cited ONS figures, which show a rise in crime between July and September 2020 when restrictions were eased. This trend has continued into the third quarter of 2021, with UK Crime Stats suggesting a higher incidence of burglaries from July to August to September. As such, it is anticipated that homeowners will invest more into home security, making it a key area for installers to consider in the coming months.

As normal life resumed over 2021, the UK population has looked to pick up as much of its pre-pandemic activities as possible, including travel and holidays. However, one of every 100 homes in the UK is burgled each year according to the 2020 ONS Crime Survey, and with occupants no longer housebound, it is prudent to anticipate a further increase. This statistic, alongside findings from the ONS that one in five burglars will enter a property via a window, demonstrate genuine consumer need for better home security.

For homeowners looking to make their property more secure, quality windows will be a key safeguard against burglars, and a frame’s security credentials will become increasingly important for safety-conscious homeowners. Currently, easily accessible windows used in new English dwellings must comply with Approved Document Q (ADQ) of the Building Regulations concerning the PAS24:2016 security standard. This involves passing a test that factors-in break-ins via different methods, including physical force.

Worryingly, not all windows need to meet the standards laid out in ADQ. Among these are those that are not easily accessible, any windows fitted as replacements, or those installed before the regulations came into effect in October 2015. Consumer concerns about home security are therefore well placed, and installers should take this into account when organising projects. Making it clear a portfolio includes frames that meet PAS24:2016 will be vital for ensuring peace of mind and possibly generating new business.

Though PAS24:2016 is a key security standard for the fenestration industry, it is increasingly being regarded as the bare minimum for properties. As such, to stand out in a competitive market, installers and fabricators should now look to see how they can exceed current regulations and win over vigilant homeowners.

One potential way of demonstrating highly secure windows is to look for designs from manufacturers that have joined Secured By Design, or SBD. As the official police security initiative owned by the UK Police Service, SBD was developed to improve the physical security of buildings by holding products such as windows to higher security standards.
For window frames to be given SBD accreditation, they must exceed the standards set out in ADQ, which requires manufacturers to test their products in accordance with PAS24:2016. The product must also receive independent third-party certification from a Ukas-credited body.

With burglaries potentially on the rise post pandemic, it is sensible for fenestration professionals to consider these higher-level standards if they wish to guarantee the ongoing performance of their portfolio. They should not only seek out manufacturers that strongly emphasise their products are tested against all fenestration industry requirements, but also look for those that exceed current regulations.

Suppliers such as Rehau have joined the SBD initiative with these higher standards in mind. By taking this added level of security into consideration, window professionals will be able to tap into current safety trends and provide potential customers with the best possible solutions for securing their home.