Big Interview – Alfie Hosker


Alfie Hosker, Technical Manager for Secured by Design explores the growing necessity for product certification that eases prevention of both crime and fire 

Is Secured by Design exclusively focused on doors and door hardware, or do you cover a broader range of products? 

Secured by Design’s scope extends beyond doors and door hardware. While apartment doors, especially fire-resistant ones, are crucial, we cover a wide range of products. Our focus ranges from individual components like hardware, cylinders, and handles to broader categories such as vehicle crime prevention and asset marking products. For instance, you can find products for securing bicycles or vehicles, as well as solutions for hostile vehicle mitigation. We also engage in counter-terrorism efforts, addressing windows and various alarm systems. In essence, any product that offers a crime prevention benefit and can meet our acceptable standard falls under our purview. Products that meet our standards are referred to as “police preferred specification,” signifying that they align with our standards and are acceptable for use.  

With your involvement in the Grenfell Tower Enquiry, you mentioned how doors, especially in high-rise buildings, are crucial not only for fire safety but also for the security of residents and assets? 

It’s essential to emphasize that any guidance or recommendations we provide take into account the input of relevant stakeholders who possess expertise in various aspects. When we consider doors, particularly those in flat apartments, we must balance the requirements of security, fire safety, and smoke control. It’s crucial to ensure that a door is fit for its intended purpose without compromising one aspect for the sake of another. 

It’s worth noting that just because we’re associated with the police, it doesn’t mean we act unilaterally. Going forward, we highly value collaboration with various stakeholders. As you rightly pointed out, it’s essential. So, moving ahead, we work closely with the fire brigade to ensure that the security features of a door don’t pose obstacles to the fire brigade’s access. Additionally, we consider other aspects such as access control systems within the building or on apartment block floors. It’s vital to recognize that many buildings, especially in major cities like London, Birmingham, and Leeds, are tall structures with substantial foot traffic. Consequently, we also focus on access control measures to prevent unauthorized individuals from loitering, ensuring safety and reducing opportunities for antisocial behavior or burglary within the flats. 

However, the overarching objective here is to ensure that when there’s a requirement for fire and smoke resistance, those requirements are met. If a property seeks “Secured by Design” approval, it must adhere to a unified scope certification. This certification encompasses enhanced security, fire resistance, and smoke control, all tested and certified within the same door. This means it must demonstrate competence in specific performance criteria, like withstanding 30 minutes of fire, handling a certain volume of smoke, and maintaining integrity under certain temperature conditions. From a policing perspective, we expect our member companies to provide this certification or seek police sign-off, which involves third-party certification. In this process, an approved body conducts yearly audits, constantly monitoring the company and subjecting their products, like doors, to rigorous testing to ensure they remain fit for purpose. 

Furthermore, it’s essential to emphasize the significance of proper maintenance and installation, not only in high-rise flats but also in various settings. Even if a product is designed to meet security, fire, and smoke requirements, incorrect installation or the use of inadequate components during maintenance can compromise these critical aspects. To sum it up, the key takeaway is that having all these factors consolidated into a single scope of certification minimizes confusion regarding a door’s capabilities. This document serves as a clear testament to the door’s fitness across a range of performance requirements, including enhanced security, fire resistance, and smoke control. 

You’ve highlighted an intriguing point about balancing the need for security with the necessity for firefighters to access a building during emergencies. Building on this collaborative approach, Secured by Design, the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, and the Door Hardware Federation jointly produced aw document titled “The Guide for Selecting Flat Entrance Door Sets.” Could you shed some light on the purpose and contents of this document? 

The collaborative effort of Secured by Design, the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, and the Door Hardware Federation resulted in the creation of “The Guide for Selecting Flat Entrance Door Sets.” This document was crafted with the intention of providing valuable guidance and insights to professionals within the industry. 

The guide aims to assist individuals involved in selecting flat entrance door sets, such as building managers, architects, and other stakeholders. It offers a comprehensive resource that addresses various aspects related to these door sets, including factors like security, fire resistance, and smoke control. Essentially, it helps streamline the decision-making process by offering a consolidated source of information that covers the crucial elements necessary for selecting the right door sets for specific applications. 

In essence, this collaborative document facilitates informed decision-making and promotes best practices within the industry, emphasizing the importance of selecting door sets that meet the highest standards across all relevant criteria. 

Do you update either the document or the Secured by Design certification to address new criminal tactics or techniques? Is this something that you regularly monitor and adapt to? 

Our approach is to stay vigilant and adapt to evolving threats. For instance, our police-approved standard PAS 24, which is designed to address the lowest level of security risk for a full door set, has gone through multiple iterations since its inception. The most recent update is PAS 24:2022, which our member companies are currently undergoing. 

As you rightly pointed out, we keep a close eye on industry developments and updates to relevant standards, whether it’s related to security, fire safety, or enhanced security. We ensure that our materials and guidance align with the latest best practices and standards. In fact, we are currently in the process of updating our brochures to ensure they remain fit for purpose in a rapidly evolving field. 

Secured by Design is indeed an accreditation that carries significant value. Beyond ensuring fitness for purpose, are there any other tangible benefits that manufacturers can showcase to potential buyers? 

Secured by Design serves as an independent accreditation on behalf of the UK Police Service. Unlike the past, where physical testing was involved, we now work with qualified individuals and recognized certification bodies like UCAS, BSI, LPCB, and others. These bodies independently verify that a product meets its stated performance claims. This ensures that manufacturers are not merely making unsupported claims about their products. 

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Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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