Safety first

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Data projectors maybe near the top of the list when it comes to being targeted by school thieves, but there is much that schools can do to reduce the risk of theft. "Schools should have a holistic approach to security,"

says Stephen Hobson, crime reduction officer at Greater Manchester Police, "it's not just about buying security equipment, but good management and getting the message across to parents and their kids. It's about promoting good citizenship and encouraging everybody to be involved in the school's security."

The best security systems use the "Onion Skin" approach, whereby thieves have to penetrate several or more security layers. Becta has issued security guidelines for schools on its website (, which start with the school perimeter and end with security features around the projector itself. Some features cost next to nothing to implement, while others may involve some investment.

Strategies schools can take to protect data projectors include:

* Securing the school perimeter with strong fencing and gates

* Closing windows or blinds when the school has closed

* Ensuring rooms containing projectors have sturdy locks

* Using existing security features on projectors

* Using security locks or cables to keep the projector in place

* Instal projector inside a cage

* Using a Sonic Alarm, which emits a high volume, piercing shriek if the projector is removed from its anchor point and which cannot be switched off by the thief

* Installing an alarm system that is linked to the local police

* Using high-visibility overt marking, such as etching or security labels

* Using covert marking systems such as SmartWater

* Using covert tracking devices

* Purchasing the new generation of projectors that have distinctive colour schemes, like The Protector

* Buying a projector with a removable panel that renders it inoperative without it

* Installing a CCTV system

* Using a webcam as a 247 surveillance device. The webcam can be set up with a motion detector so that if the projector is moved, the webcam's footage is automatically recorded on a server on the internet. It could also be set up to instantly send a warning email or a text message to a mobile phone

* Installing the projector on your school network in such a way that if it is removed from the network, a warning is automatically generated

* Getting the local crime reduction officer to advise your school on security

* Setting up good procedures and practices among your staff that will help keep your equipment secure

* Getting students involved, for example in marking property or sticking labels on equipment

* Putting large warning signs on the school perimeter and outside rooms housing projectors.

* Putting up large warning stickers on your projectors

* Informing the local community that your school has many security systems in place, via local press and radio Zurich Municipal has additional advice:

* When buying new projectors, make sure you have adequate security in place before it arrives

* When school buildings are closed, data projectors should be locked in a secure room or cabinet. A secure room is defined as a room with brickconcrete block walls, volumetric intruder detection, no roof lights and a solid timber door secured by a five-lever mortise deadlock. A secure cabinet is a proprietary security cabinet anchored to the fabric of the building

* If the projectors are fixed to a ceiling-mounted pole, they should be secured using a proprietary entrapment device. It's important to ensure that the pole is adequately secured to the ceiling to make it as difficult as possible to wrench the entire pole off the ceiling or unbolt it.

Accessories are available to help you do this

* When ordering new projectors, consider purchasing projectors that incorporate a PIN number. After being disconnected from the electricity supply, such projectors cannot be used again unless the PIN number is entered

* Ensure that all equipment is marked with SmartWater and ensure that notices are visible within the school and also the room holding the equipment

* Any room containing a data projector should be alarm protected, as should the approach room. The alarm should be configured so a confirmed alarm is achieved when intruders enter the room

* Consider window grills or bars and strengthened doors as additional security

* Prevent daytime theft by locking the room containing the data projector when it is not in use. Always confirm the identity of contractors visiting the premises and always make sure visitors are escorted on and off the premises

* When transporting projectors, do not leave them unattended.

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