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Prior to the late 1990s most replacement doors and those fitted into new homes were not necessarily designed to be secure and if a manufacturer claimed that they were secure there was no independent testing or minimum standards available to confirm the claim. It was very much left to the householder to judge the claims being made by the manufacturer and to add extra security if necessary.
During the same period it was not uncommon to find that the doors installed into new homes were often fitted with cheap nightlatches and two and three lever mortice sashlocks (sometimes referred to as ‘builder’s locks’). Outward opening back doors were often hung on inexpensive hinges and in my first new house in 1984 I could literally pull the hinge pins out with my fingers and open the door from the hinge side!
Back then, security for new homes was regarded as the householder’s problem, not the builder’s or designer’s problem. Sometimes, when the householder tried to fit better locks into the doors it was found that the doors were too thin to take the new locks (the doors were less than 44mm thick) and instead the householder was forced change the doors as well. As Crime Prevention Officers, we would see these problems all the time and it seemed to be ridiculous that people were paying good money for a new home with a security level that was out of all proportion to the crime risks present during those days. We should remember too that from the middle of the 1960s most crimes and especially burglary had been on the increase, not peaking until the mid 1990s. Eventually the National House-Building Council (NHBC) did introduce some very welcomed minimum security requirements for its members, which helped a little, but there was not (and still isn’t) a Building Regulation requirement to fit enhanced secure doorsets of the type described in this section. Insofar as security is concerned this was a very bad time for householders.
During the mid 1980s the police crime prevention service started to take notice of new research into how the built environment provided opportunity to commit crime. In 1989, in an attempt to introduce the recommendations of the research, the police introduced a project called ‘Secured by Design’ (SBD) to the UK. The project set minimum security specifications for new and refurbished homes, such as thief resistant locks for the front doors and locks for the windows. Advice was also given to architects about how certain layouts of housing were less likely to provide opportunity for thieves and burglars. By 1991 most new and refurbished affordable homes, i.e. Housing Association developments, were being built to the police SBD standards and the police started to see some modest reductions in crimes against these homes when compared to other new homes that had not been built to the same security specification. However, it was soon realised that although the locks were helpful, they were often being fitted to doors of weak construction and were therefore making very little difference to the overall security of the doorset. Something had to be done about the security quality of the doors and by the mid 1990s the police were talking with door manufacturers, trade associations and the British Standards Institute about the creation of a test standard for enhanced security doors.
As a result of this work, a test specification called PAS 24-1:1999 Enhanced security performance requirements for door assemblies was developed. PAS (Publicly Available Specification) is a document written by stakeholders from the industry with input from the police and published by BSI. In addition to this, the general performance standard PAS 23-1:1999 General performance requirements for door assemblies. Single leaf, external door assemblies to dwellings was introduced. Interestingly, if a door manufacturer wanted to have their doors certificated to PAS 24 they would also have to have them successfully tested to this performance standard. This meant that an enhanced secure door to keep the burglars out would also keep the bad weather out! The original PAS 24 was improved over the years and the new standard to look out for is PAS 24:2016 Enhanced security performance requirements for doorsets and windows in the UK. Doorsets and windows intended to offer a level of security suitable for dwellings and other buildings exposed to comparable risk (Replaces PAS 24:2012 Enhanced security performance requirements for doorsets and windows in the UK. External doorsets and windows intended to offer a level of security suitable for dwellings and other buildings exposed to comparable risk)
PAS 24, which started out as a test for single leaf doorsets, is now used to test just about all types of doors and this most recent version has been extended to include sliding doors, composite doors and bi-fold doors (and parallel opening windows). PAS 24:2016 also allows manufacturers to test to the European security standards EN 1627 – 1630 and requires all doors to meet a cylinder and door hardware attack test.
The locks or locking mechanisms used in PAS 24:2016 doosets undergo an evaluation against the General Vulnerability Assessment contained in BS 3621 (the standard for thief resistant locks). Cylinders must be certificated to BS EN 1303 as having Grade 5 key security, a minimum Grade 0 attack resistance and a Grade 2 drill attack resistance. Cylinders that meet this standard are certified by the BSI (British Standards Institute) or BM Trada.
The additional testing on the lock cylinders was introduced in 2009 to make sure that the lock cylinder was resistant to snapping, plug withdrawal and ‘bumping’, which is a term used to describe a method of opening the lock using a special key. (See More things to improve door security , Replacing lock cylinders)
You might be interested to learn that the UK was the first country in the world to make enhanced secure doors (and windows) for domestic use and their performance in terms of their contribution to reducing burglary has been quite breathtaking. The Dutch quickly followed suit and slowly Europe got into the act and published a European standard BS EN 1627:2011 Pedestrian doorsets, windows, curtain walling, grilles and shutters. Burglar resistance. Requirements and classification [+ 1628 - 1630]. However, if a manufacturer wants their doors to match the security standard of PAS 24:2016 they must achieve successful testing to EN 1627-30 Class RC3 with additional testing on the cylinder and letterplate as specified in PAS 24:2016
The development of this security standard for doorsets has meant that nearly all affordable housing built since 1999 includes PAS 24 doorsets. Apart from a few exceptions, we unfortunately cannot say the same about private homes, because without the legislation to require their installation, such as a change to the Building Regulations, builders will do what they have always done. As I write this section in the economic gloom of March 2013 there is rumour about some relaxation of the requirement for security for affordable housing, so the possibility that this incredibly successful initiative will one day become a building regulation seems an awfully long way off.
Fortunately for you, hundreds of UK manufacturers are producing PAS 24:2016 doors of many different styles and materials and if you want one and you're searching on the internet use 'PAS 24:2016 doors' as part of your search term.
Please note that PAS 24 is a test on the entire doorset; the door, frame and locks, not the individual component parts.
Please note that the above information is currently being rewritten to reflect the changes in the latest version of PAS 24 (2016)