The Importance Of Perimeter Security For Utilities

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the UK's ageing energy networks require an investment totalling £41.6 billion to meet current and future demands. In addition, the UK water industry plans to invest at least £5 billion a year for the next five years.

As the modernisation of UK utility networks continues, it’s important to have a robust security plan in place that reflects the investment in infrastructure. The plan should integrate cyber and physical security measures in order to future-proof and effectively protect these high value assets as they evolve.

In the UK, utilities are classed as critical national infrastructure, meaning they must be highly protected; a security breach can have severe consequences on public safety and service availability, both of which may have serious national security implications.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) advises that an effective perimeter solution such as fences, gates, and barriers must be implemented in a manner that supports organisational processes, both security and site operation, and the activities of security personnel. The CPNI also stresses the importance of understanding how internal teams and support agencies such as the police will respond to incidents when designing these measures.

To design an effective security plan for your utility site, you need to undertake a detailed assessment of the risks and potential threats. Using the Operational Requirements (OR) process can help you weigh up the cost benefit vs risk reduction to justify and develop the appropriate measures ahead of procurement. In the case of physical security such as fencing, gates and access control, utilising the 5 Ds of effective perimeter security to defend assets, you need to choose a solutions that can detect, deter, delay, and deny access. This layered approach provides greater protection to the facility and gives security staff the intelligence they need to implement their response.

Once potential security threats have been identified and assessed, it is important that the right products are specified, taking into account legislative and operational requirements as defined by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and utility specific bodies such as the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat).

Depending on the security threat level on site, perimeter security products must be extensively tested and feature third party accreditation. Products suitable for perimeter security usually have to be Secured by Design accredited at a minimum, while enhanced security products are certified to LPS 1175 Issue 7 with a security rating between 1-8, with 1 being the lowest rating and 8 the highest. These ratings take into account the attack time a product is able to withstand given an allowable tool set and maximum work time.

For sites that pose an even higher risk, the CPNI recommends specific products that are certified and labelled ‘Approved for UK Government Use’. These sites typically employ other robust measures such as Hostile Vehicle Mitigation to protect against vehicle borne attacks. In this instance, crash rated fences, barriers and gates must be PAS 68 or IWA 14 certified to ensure effectiveness.

Find out how Jacksons can defend crucial utility sites; take a look at how we upgraded the physical perimeter security for a water treatment plant here.

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