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WINDOW AND DOOR SECURITY SYSTEMS Unobtrusive Window Protection

Almost every area of manufacturing has been affected by the recent economic recession and none more so than glass production, with supplies becoming both uneconomical and unsustainable. This has inevitably led to price inflation directly affecting the replacement glazing market that results from vandalism and burglary. It therefore follows that the more expensive it becomes to replace broken windows, the more critical to invest in glass and window protection.

The recently announced spending review confirmed anticipated cuts to The Police Service, with up to 40,000 front line police jobs at risk. The result will almost certainly lead to increased rates of crime and burglary over the short and medium term, making it more important than ever to consider effective physical protection of property. However, such considerations can be off-putting as many solutions are unsightly and unwelcoming, giving a barricaded or institutional appearance. In recent years new forms of physical security have been developed to protect property in an unobtrusive but effective way, and which are all but invisible to the casual observer.

This approach to unobtrusive security has been led by the development of products utilising perforated steel. The principal is simple. A 2mm thick sheet of steel is punched with a regular pattern of holes that result in an open area of approx 60 % and when this is pained black and placed against a window the screen becomes almost invisible. The relationship between the material thickness and the bridge between the holes is known as the visibility quotient, and the natural evolution of the product has resulted in a form which combines optimum light transmission with security, by which the market leader is tested and approved by the Loss Prevention Certification Board, and Secured By Design, and therefore recognised and specified within the Police and Insurance industry. The perforated security screen has been widely used on many high profile applications including several police headquarters buildings and forensic laboratories where security is tantamount without drawing attention to its presence. It is also regularly used to protect schools, hospitals, medical and leisure centres, commercial offices and retail outlets.

Specifiers and architects are being encouraged to consider sympathetic security at the drawing board stage, designing in protection at an early stage rather than leaving it to the buildings’ owners or occupiers to degrade the aesthetic appearance for the sake of cheap and unsightly vandal or burglar protection. An application of perforated security screens provides an unobtrusive deterrent, saving valuable time, inconvenience and money replacing damaged glazing. Furthermore, this type of security is working 24 hours a day, and is much cheaper than manned guarding or monitored CCTV.

Care should be taken however, to understand that the concept of perforated security should not be reduced to its simplest form. Anyone can place a piece of metal with punched holes in front of a window. In its most effective form the perforated steel membrane is mounted into a two part extruded mitred and welded aluminium frame. The frame is designed to be installed into any variation of fenestration, and whilst the mesh is always black, the frames can be powder coated to any colour to suit existing windows, so that the result is invisible to the casual observer.

Perforated screens offer protection against unauthorised access to any property through the window or door, whilst also protecting the glass against blows, rocks or even air gun pellets. From a distance it merely gives the impression that the windows are fitted with tinted glass, without preventing any loss of light from within. Products tested and accredited to LPS 1175 SR1 by the Loss Prevention Certification Board offer specifiers true benchmarked security with which to select products with confidence. LPCB carry out comprehensive controlled testing using a variety of different tools against strict time constraints and it fails more than 95 per cent of the security equipment tested.

Specifiers should only consider perforated screens that are police approved by Secured by Design, the initiative from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) that aims to reduce crime through effective environmental design. The scheme also calls for the installation of security products that meet police-approved standards. Manufacturers and installers whose products have been certified by an accredited testing body to the specified standards, can apply for SBD membership and licence to utilise the scheme’s logo.

Recognising the need for a more cost effective version of the product in areas where only vandalism and glass breakage is an issue, simpler vandal shields have been developed as a low cost alternative for the protection of glazing against mindless vandalism and opportunist attack and entry. All shapes, sizes and types of fenestration can be easily accommodated, together with cut-outs for hinges, locks and handles on doors, to which the product can also be fitted to protect the glazed panels.

Good product designers are always listening to the market place, and there are still instances where a metal screen, no matter how discreet, cannot be placed in front of a window. With this consideration in mind, market leaders have begun to utilise clear polycarbonate in place of perforated mesh, providing an invisible layer of window protection. These clear type products build 3mm thick Lexan polycarbonate into the framing system. Polycarbonate screens are ideal for the protection of windows from vandalism in applications where no other form of physical security can be considered. Lexan Excell is transparent polycarbonate that looks like glass. It combines proprietary UV protection and excellent weathering properties, with tough impact resistance. Vision will withstand a sustained attack from stone throwing and most hand tools providing an invisible deterrent against vandalism and determined intruder entry. Manufacturers Sabic describe Lexan polycarbonate as virtually unbreakable!

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Hill Farm, Linton Hill, Maidstone, Kent ME 17 4AL
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