Do your security measures actually make your occupants feel safer? See the results of this study

by Brianna Crandall — January 3, 2018 — UK-based building research group BRE recently conducted a survey to help identify priorities for new research, standards development and training in the area of crime prevention and protective security. To help shape a built environment that will have the greatest positive impact on people’s lives, whether in the UK or elsewhere, the group wanted to look beyond officially published crime statistics and understand users’ perceptions of crime and security — whether security initiatives currently being used actually make people feel more secure, and how their perceptions affect their behavior.

The BRE National Security Survey revealed that personal security is becoming an increasing worry across the UK, with two out of three respondents more concerned about crime today than they were five years ago. The top three issues raised as causing the most concern were cybercrime, terrorism and property crime.

BRE security infographic

Click on image to enlarge.

Developed by the creators of SABRE, BRE’s security assessment and certification scheme for new and existing buildings and built infrastructure assets, the survey was initiated to help understand how people’s perceptions influence their everyday decision-making in relation to their home life, work life and travel arrangements.

Gavin Jones, director of SABRE, commented:

Although we are continuing to identify effective ways to protect our built environment from crime and terrorism, these efforts are not necessarily reflected in the general public’s perceptions of their own personal security. Despite the likelihood of an individual being directly affected by a terrorist incident being extremely remote, recent events are having a disproportionate impact on people’s lives; they appear to be influencing where people are willing to travel, where they stay, and whether they attend a major event or concert. The public clearly need reassurance that the places they live, work and visit are safe and secure. It is in the interests of businesses that they find innovative solutions to this problem.

Property crime

Of particular interest to multifamily residence property managers, while property crime was ranked as the highest security concern, with 43.17% of participants ranking it as a major concern, the vast majority of respondents (87%) felt their homes were either secure or very secure.

One of the key factors identified by the National Security Survey in making respondents feel safe and secure at home was well-designed and maintained areas immediately adjacent to their properties. In 2015, security was introduced into UK building regulations guidance for the first time in the form of a new Approved Document. Approved Document Q “Security – Dwellings” introduces requirements for windows and doors on all dwellings constructed in England.  A full 63% of respondents identified such features as the second most important factor in making them feel secure in their home.


In 2016 there were 38% more cybersecurity incidents than the previous year, and 2017 saw a number of high-profile incidents. Following the increase in tempo of notable cyberattacks, it is of little surprise to see a quarter of respondents place cybercrime as their highest concern. Despite this, one in five placed it as their lowest concern, which could mean these individuals are either content with existing security controls or are perhaps agnostic to the potential threats posed.

Either way, it is clear that there is a lot more to be done in relation to the threat posed by cybercriminals, with the global cost of online attacks estimated to reach $2 trillion by 2019, a threefold increase from the 2015 estimate of $500 billion.


In a year when UK terror arrests rose 68% to record levels, coupled with a string of large-scale attacks across the UK and Europe, terrorism has been a regular feature of daily news broadcasts and social media feeds. This notoriety has undoubtedly led to increased concern around the issue, with two-thirds of respondents to the survey stating that recent acts of terrorism have led them to become more security-conscious when out and about.

When asked whether recent terrorist attacks across Europe had influenced their travel decisions within the United Kingdom, one in two respondents said they had. This demonstrates the remarkable societal reach of terrorism, its ability to create fear far beyond the individuals directly involved in an incident.

The economic impact in sectors such as tourism can be significant. In the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks, the number of tourists entering France fell 8%, and it is estimated that tourism revenues in Paris alone were reduced by €1.5 billion.

BRE’s National Security Survey asked respondents whether their choice of hotel would be influenced by security, with one in five respondents stating it would be a major influence when selecting where to stay. Similar results were seen when respondents were asked about attendance at major events and concerts. Clearly, terrorism is influencing behavior and making the general public more security conscious when they are planning to be away from home.

When respondents were asked whether they would make use of a security rating program for different types of facilities (similar to a nutrition label), 70% said they would be influenced by a scheme adopted by hotels, and 60% in the case of airports and entertainment venues. Other notable facility types for which a security rating program would be welcomed included retail malls, transport premises and entertainment venues. Clearly there is a desire among the general public, particularly when using crowded places, for greater assurance that these places are safe and secure, points out BRE.

Workplace security measures

In terms of security in the workplace, over 80% of respondents felt either secure or very secure at their place of work. The vast majority of respondents stated that they hold their employers responsible for their safety while at work (83%), with nearly three-quarters recognizing their own role in workplace security.

When asked what types of security measures would make them feel more secure at work, at the top of the list was a desire to see proactive management and regular security updates to employees (over 58%). Security-rated windows/doors and CCTV installations came 2nd and 3rd place respectively, highlighting that investment in the creation and management of a security culture in the workplace may have just as significant an impact in creating an environment where staff feel safe and secure, as capital-intensive crime prevention and security interventions.

To download a copy of BRE’s 2017 National Security Survey, visit the BRE Web site.

BRE’s SABRE security assessment and certification program recognizes and rewards good practice and encourages those involved in the construction and operation of buildings to measure their performance so they can make informed investment decisions, communicate their security credentials to interested parties, and benefit from greater transparency. Since each building is unique, SABRE adopts a risk-based framework to ensure flexibility in approach, recognize all solutions that contribute to effective security, and allow applicants to adopt an approach to security that is appropriate and proportionate to their needs.