Should you go for a Secured By Design award for your building?


There’s a fairly broad range of security awards available for buildings, whether at construction, fit-out or in use. But do you need to go for them? Should you be targeting Secured by Design for your new residential development? What about the City of London Crime Prevention Association’s Building Security Accreditation (catchy!) for your commercial office? BRE started with BREEAM Security Needs Assessments and are now offering SABRE - it's BRE so surely it's worth going for?

In a series of posts I’m going to take a look at the nature of these schemes, and try to give you a steer on their applicability and usefulness. We’ll also be giving away a comparison template for ease of reference to security schemes versus building types.

If you’re involved in the design, construction or fit-out of commercial or residential property, then you’ve probably bumped into some of these security design certificates. Maybe you’re a property developer, architect or planning consultant who found that you had a planning requirement to achieve Secured By Design certification. Perhaps you’re a BREEAM Assessor looking to include points available for security under Hea 06. Maybe you’re even a building operator or tenant looking for assurance that the building that you’re housing your people in has a suitable degree of security or perhaps you're trying to satisfy insurers. Let's start with probably the best known of them all.

Secured By Design

What is it?

SBD (not SbD, on pain of marketing death) is “The official UK Police flagship initiative combining the principles of 'designing out crime' with physical security”.

That means that the SBD schemes combine elements of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED, worthy of a series of posts or maybe a PhD) and physical products tested to security standards (again, the strengths and weaknesses of these standards and their applicability will be the subject of future posts).

What types of building or uses does it apply to?

SBD is, in my experience, most commonly and most usefully applied to residential developments. The academic assessments of SBD and CPTED have also tended to focus on residential developments There was a peak in this while Code for Sustainable Homes was still going, as CfSH gave some points for achieving SBD New Homes 2014 ‘Section 2 Part Compliance’. There is also sometimes a specific planning requirement, though in my experience this has often been a rumour on projects that was not strictly true.

SBD has also launched National Building Approval. NBA accredits building types so that developers can deploy the same building nationally without reapplying each time. In order to facilitate that approach, SBD NBA necessarily only covers physical security measures and not the CPTED elements which are inherently more location specific.

As well as SBD Homes 2016, there are also SBD Design Guides for Commercial Buildings (2015), New Schools (2014) and Hospitals (2005).

What sort of standard is SBD?

Secured by Design is (mostly) a prescriptive standard. While it gently encourages you to use products from Secured By Design Members (, SBD for the most part refers to products tested to British and occasionally European standards (see EN 1627 discussion below).

Where SBD deviates slightly from being a fully prescriptive standard is that it gives final sign off, and discretion over any non-compliances, to the individual assigned police Designing Out Crime Officer. This means, naturally, that some deviation from one DOCO to the next. Some will accept design alternatives or reduced product specs to allow compatibility with your architecture or operation, and some won't.

Probably the most common example of this at the time of writing is the use of EN 1627 RC3 doors; there is a much broader and more appealing range of products tested to this than to the PAS 24 standard that SBD requires. Some DOCOs will allow them and some won't, in my experience. I'll pick this up again in a future technical post on SBD, in the meantime there's a note from SBD at

Should you apply for Secured By Design certification?

If you're a residential build-to-sell property developer, I think that you should consider it. With the introduction of Building Regulations Approved Document Q mandating some of the more significant physical security elements of SBD, there seems little reason not to at least evaluate the compatibility of your scheme.

If your property is PRS, student accommodation or other rented multi-dwelling residential property then perhaps you should also consider the in-use operational benefits of an enhanced level of security beyond ADQ, which SBD provides.

Outside of residential property, the SBD offering is less clear. SBD Commercial Buildings takes a similar approach to SBD Homes, tackling both physical security products and more design related crime prevention theories. However it seems to me that in trying to cover the breadth of commercial building types the standard may have become complex and diluted. In my experience SBD Commercial has lost ground to more flexible security schemes that allow a security consultant to blend project-specific risks with building-appropriate measures.

BREEAM Hea 06 references Secured By Design, but also requires the site-specific parts of a BREEAM Security Needs Assessment on top. At the time of writing it seems that police Designing Out Crime Officers are not always willing to act as SQSS for BREEAM purposes, and will only participate in a project if it is going for Secured By Design certification. If that continues to be the case then it may be that some projects should apply for SBD as a means of gaining access to specific local crime information that can't be gleaned from the publicly available statistics.

Who can help?

Individual SBD applications have to be made via a local police Designing Out Crime Officer (also known as a Crime Prevention Design Advisor or an Architectural Liason Officer). You can find the application forms at and a list of DOCOs at

If you're considering Secured By Design National Building Approval, then you should contact SBD at

We recommend that before you engage with the DOCO you should understand at a high level the security threats to your development; the type of security that your building's users will expect and value; the compatibility of those things with SBD; and the compatibility of SBD with your proposed layout and materials, particularly your facade system and door specifications.


If your scheme is residential, then you should consider applying for Secured By Design Homes 2016 because the crime reduction benefits are proven and the additional expenditure beyond complying with Approved Document Q may be low. 

I'll revisit Secured By Design Homes 2016 in greater detail in a future post, and provide some commentary on the specific measures that it requires.

If your scheme is commercial, then you may be better served at this time by a building-specific security assessment. We will cover more schemes aimed at commercial buildings in coming posts.

To get some independent security design advice at any stage in your design or construction process, contact us at

All of the Secured By Design Guides are available from