Ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on good se­cu­rity when go­ing to univer­sity

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - St­ef­fan Ge­orge

SEND­ING your child off to univer­sity is a tax­ing time for any par­ent. With con­cerns for their safety and hap­pi­ness weigh­ing on your mind as they move from the fam­ily home this au­tumn, it is im­por­tant to look at all the po­ten­tial pit­falls they could face.

Whether mov­ing into halls of res­i­dence or pri­vately-rented ac­com­mo­da­tion, you want to be sure that the fun­da­men­tal se­cu­rity of the prop­erty is up to scratch.

Students are one of the high­est at-risk groups of crime in the coun­try, of­ten tar­geted for high-value lap­tops, TV’s and en­ter­tain­ment equip­ment, which are fre­quently left in plain view and un­se­cured against in­trud­ers.

It is all too easy to as­sume that pre­vi­ous res­i­dents have handed in their keys, and while this may well be the case, it does not mean that ex­tra copies have not been made by ei­ther for­mer res­i­dents, em­ploy­ees or even rogue trades­men.

It is im­por­tant for students and par­ents to ques­tion what lock­ing sys­tems are in place, when they were last re­placed and how the copy­ing of keys is kept un­der con­trol.

Re­spon­si­ble land­lords or uni­ver­si­ties should in­stall qual­ity locks with patented keys, which can’t be copied with­out proof of own­er­ship, or re­stricted keys which can’t be eas­ily copied due to their de­sign. This pro­tects against the risk of crim­i­nals who may be in pos­ses­sion of a copied key and can gain ac­cess to the prop­erty with no no­tice­able sign of en­try, cre­at­ing dif­fi­culty in claim­ing on the in­sur­ance.

It is land­lords’ duty to act in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner by right­fully po­si­tion­ing the safety of their ten­ants at the top of their agenda. With the fol­low­ing ad­vice, the Mas­ter Lock­smiths As­so­ci­a­tion hopes to ease the con­cerns of par­ents and students alike and en­sure univer­sity is the best ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble:

Walk around the ex­te­rior of the prop­erty mak­ing sure to note any ar­eas of po­ten­tial weak­ness and dis­cuss any is­sues with a land­lord – af­ter all you are pay­ing them a lot of money ev­ery month. In­spect locks on doors and win­dows are ap­pro­pri­ate, in good con­di­tion and meet the re­quire­ments of in­sur­ance.

Be sure to keep valu­able items out of sight, away from doors or win­dows.

Con­sider tak­ing full de­tails of any valu­ables you have and for elec­tronic items make a note of the se­rial num­ber and con­sider iden­tity mark­ing them.

Put an end to any bad habits. For in­stance don’t leave your keys in the door or in view, set alarm codes and lock any doors, win­dows and side gates, and re­mem­ber to use all the locks, in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual room locks and front doors.

A large pro­por­tion of stu­dent theft is down to “walk in”, gain­ing ac­cess through open doors so be vig­i­lant and don’t for­get that sim­ply clos­ing a door doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean it’s locked.

Avoid the temp­ta­tion to hide a key un­der the door­mat or flower pot, crim­i­nals are very aware of the method, par­tic­u­larly in stu­dent ar­eas and will of­ten check in the first in­stance, giv­ing them un­re­stricted ac­cess to your prop­erty and pos­ses­sions.

Be aware also of any “tail­gat­ing” where peo­ple can en­ter a front door with or im­me­di­ately af­ter you.

En­sure the prop­erty is in line with Houses of Mul­ti­ple Oc­cu­pancy (HMO) reg­u­la­tions which ap­ply to homes with at least three ten­ants who share the toi­let, bath­room or kitchen fa­cil­i­ties.

And fi­nally, take note of the num­ber of your near­est MLA li­censed lock­smith by vis­it­ing www.lock­smiths.co.uk or store the MLA’s freep­hone num­ber, tel: 0800 783 1498 in your mo­bile phone.

Such se­cu­rity tips may seem like com­mon sense, how­ever with the amount of ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the first weeks of term it is easy for an is­sue like se­cu­rity to slip to the back of your mind.

Dr St­ef­fan Ge­orge is de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor of the Mas­ter Lock­smiths As­so­ci­a­tion. www.lock­smiths.co.uk

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