Security Measures In Social Housing Reduce Maintenance Construction Essay

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Do the security measures put in place in social housing reduce maintenance costs and improve the value of the council's housing stock?

Preface

Council Housing stock is a very expensive commodity. This stock is lived in by residents and these people are due the same level of security and living standards that we are all used to. Unfortunately there are a small number of people who are intent on terrorising the residents with Anti Social Behaviour and constant acts of Vandalism on the council housing stock. To prevent this from occurring large sums of money are spent every year on increasing the security measures in place, be it in the form of access control, key management systems, specialist suited keys and CCTV in an attempt to protect the residents and reduce the maintenance costs. Is the installation cost versus the day to day repairs and maintenance cost justifiable and one that means value for money?

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This paper will examine the cost benefit of the installation of these security measures by looking at the cost of maintenance prior to the installation and post installation on council housing stock and see if there is a reduction in maintenance costs.

Table of Contents

Introduction 4

Aims & Objectives 5

Hypothesis (Key Questions) 6

Literature Review 6

Research Methodology 6

Proposed Contents 7

References 9

Bibliography 9

Introduction

In both public and private sectors of the property market there are various factors which will influence us on where we decide to live. Regardless of where we finally decide to live there are external factors which we as home owners and public landlords are unhappy about but we do our best to try and keep these factors to a minimum. One of the most important is security and the knowledge that loved ones are safe and protected from harm.

In order to keep the anti social behaviour and crime down on the councils' housing stock, a number of different methods are utilised with varying effect. A common talking point in London is the amount of CCTV that a person is caught by everyday, especially seeing as the crimes they actually resolve are reducing year on year, Westminster in is no different and has a large number of these cameras monitoring all walks of life and this is done in partnership with the Met. Police. In addition to these fixed cameras, we have 8 roving cameras which are moved every 4-6 weeks to the latest trouble hot spots, these cameras usually have an immediate effect and have lead to more arrests in a given period in comparison to the fixed cameras.

A new and exciting method being trialled by the council is the method of pink lighting gel.

This works by identifying a troublesome area, say a specific corridor in a building or an area of a playground. Then by removing the lighting cover and inserting this pink film inside the cover, at night when the troublesome people gather in their preferred social areas a subtle pink light is emitted from the lights, this light unfortunately highlights all skin blemishes and scars regardless of the amount of makeup worn and in so doing making that area one which is no longer favourable to the group and they therefore move on to pastures new.

The final method we use is one used widely across the UK and that is the method of access control. This includes manufacturing heavy duty steel Main Entrance Doors, with handsets to each residents flat giving them access control to their guests, remote key monitoring system that increases security with the access tokens used by residents to gain entry to their building, any tokens lost by the resident are reported to the estate office and removed instantly from the system, hereby preventing future access with that token. This is done from a remote destination and can also be added in the same fashion.

These security measures are a large financial burden to the councils every year in a bid to reduce their communal repairs and maintenance costs.

In the built environment a project to install these security measures where required is a viable and acceptable means of reducing vandalism and providing safety for the residents, but at what cost to the council and the value of their stock and is this large annual expense one that can be justified.

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Working for a London borough I am tasked with project managing the installation or updating of access control to the councils housing stock with the most up to date and secure systems led by the police driving the need for greater security "The Code for Sustainable Homes should be revised to give greater priority to security." [1] 

These systems are intended to reduce the anti social behaviour which costs the tax payer billions of pounds every year in repairs and maintenance costs, "In 2003, the Home Office undertook a one-day count of antisocial behaviour incidents to quantify their impact on key service providers. This survey estimated that the cost to Government agencies of responding to reports of antisocial behaviour in England and Wales was approximately £3.4 billion per year. This figure did not include indirect costs to local communities and businesses, nor the emotional costs to victims and witnesses. The cost of not taking action against antisocial behaviour would be much higher." [2] 

In light of the fact that this practice in strongly encouraged, I will extract information from the systems used by the council to gather all the data necessary on several case studies in order to prove or disprove my initial suggestion, with the help of this information a clearer picture of which direction to move in should be visible.

The reason for selecting this contentious issue is that I work in the Mechanical & Electrical section of the councils Building & Property Services department as a Project Manager. By installing these access control measures across the borough, it has come to light recently that during the section 20 process, whereby we inform residents and leaseholders of our intentions to carry out these works, we are receiving a lot more initial objections and correspondence. I wanted to have a look into the process and be able to say to those objections that I have fully investigated both sides of the situation and can say without a doubt it is beneficial to have the access control installed or it is not.

Should this research show that it is not beneficial to install access control then this would be a case for further study.

Aims & Objectives

To provide an overview on whether the steps being taken to design out crime, with the installation of various security methods, are an effective method of reducing long term maintenance costs and in line with keeping/protecting the value of the council's housing stock.

To compare the before maintenance costs with the post installation maintenance costs and see what reduction there is if any at all.

To assess the levels of village manager & Police Crime Officers' (PCO's) satisfaction with regards to safety in the home and the associated cost of access control.

To measure the amount of money saved by the council after the installation of these security measures.

To analyse the stock valuations on previous installations and see if the overall worth of the building has improved and can justify these costs to the Residents and the Council.

Hypothesis (Key Questions)

Newly installed security measures reduce anti social behaviour and thereby reduce ongoing maintenance costs and improve the value of the councils' housing stock.

Village managers & PCO's are satisfied with the improved level of safety provided to the community and the cost implications that go along with these installations.

Literature Review

The majority of damage done to council properties is from anti social behaviour. (Crime and Disorder Act 1998) defines Anti-social behaviour as that which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household. This is where the problem begins and where the council is left trying to create an environment that discourages crime.

What can be done about this? Firstly there is the option of CCTV and in Westminster there is a large state of the art network, (Safer Westminster

Research Methodology

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There are various research methods available, ranging from qualitative research which is subjective in nature. It highlights personal opinions derived from experience; this can be divided into exploratory research and attitudinal research.

Another method is described as quantitative research and this is objective in nature, "this can be measured with numbers, and analysed with statistical procedures in order to determine whether a hypothesis holds true." [3] 

In order to reach the predetermined aims and objectives of the proposal it requires fact based evidence that will allow for statistical analysis, therefore the quantitative method will be used for this dissertation.

I am fortunate to have full access to all repair budgets both past and present and will be able to investigate these to extract the historical and present information on costs to the repairs and maintenance service as well as the costs for the installation of these access control systems that are installed.

In house there is the asset management dept. and they will be able to furnish me with details on how the council stock condition and valuation is carried out every year and what the trend is with these valuations

Stage 1: Literature research

To understand the sector better and have a clearer overview of the overall process I will review the literature available, which includes an internet search for similar information.

By doing this I will gain a better understanding of the work related to this dissertation.

It will allow me to see what the current opinions are and what their opinion is.

Stage 2: Primary interviews

I will conduct structured interviews with repairs contract managers to gauge their views and concerns on the process and in what direction they might like to see the councils moving towards.

Then I will interview village managers & PCO's, the reason for this is that they are vital in obtaining a greater picture as to why there are objections to such installations, with possibly getting an idea of where the money spent would achieve the greatest results.

Stage 3: Case study

Being a council employee I will use the council where I work for to gather the required information on all areas. Following the identification of between four and six cases where the council have installed these security measures, all the information and stats will be collected and collated.

Council stock property valuations - (still to be collected)

Costs - Vandalism repair - councils own figures- (still to be collected)

Costs - Access control installations - councils own figures- (still to be collected)

Manufacturer - Life cycle of product from manufacturer- (still to be collected)

Maintenance costs - Termed contractor - councils own figures- (still to be collected)

Stage 4: Evaluation

All of the information gathered in the previous stages will analysed and studied, allowing me to have a greater overall understanding of which direction this study has led to.

Stage 5: Writing up

The dissertation content will be written up in the proposed chapters as set out in the following section.

Proposed Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 - Literature Review

Chapter 3 - Data & Literature

Chapter 4 - Research Design & Methodology

Chapter 5 - Analysis of results

Chapter 6 - Conclusion

Chapter 7 - Bibliography

Work Plan

References

1) Secure by design, (2009) Secured by Design Issue 1 http://www.securedbydesign.com/news/focus_repository/SBD%20Focus%20Issue%201%20-%20Jan%2009.pdf, (Accessed 6 Dec 2010)

House of Commons (2009) House of Commons Hansard

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090617/text/90617w0008.htm, (Accessed 6 Dec 2010)

3) Naoum S.G. (2007) Dissertation Research and Writing for Construction Students Butterworth-Heinemann Group, England