Bandroom Security


Bandroom Security

Try and imagine the scenario – you receive a call late at night to tell you that your bandroom has been vandalised, burgled or even worse, there has been a fire - yes, it is worrying just to think about it.

How many times do we read about instruments being reported stolen, why, because not only have they been stolen from bandrooms but I have even heard of them being left on the back seats of motor vehicles outside contest venues. I have also heard of them being left in unattended member’s motor vehicles outside their homes over night and I have even heard of them being left in motor vehicles outside pubs. So think about it, does your band room have the level of security it deserves?

If the instrument was stolen from your motor vehicle, who will pay for it? Your own insurers may consider you have not taken a sufficient duty of care towards looking after your own property, so why should they pay out for your negligence. .

Many years ago I heard the story about a driver who got out of his new vehicle, left the car engine running and went into a shop to purchase packet of cigarettes. On his return his vehicle had been stolen and was later found abandoned and burnt out, did he demonstrate a duty of care towards his property – no –and that was what the car insurers thought as well and did not pay out his claim.

Bandroom security is an aspect of brass banding that can be and is often neglected – why - funds are tight, the lottery money has all gone, other grant opportunities are exhausted, your sponsor has moved on – or let's be honest, it’s head in the sand time ‘…it will never happen to us…’ throughout my experience in the police service I lost count the number of times I’d heard that excuse.

Having served as a Police Officer for thirty years including twelve years as a Home Office Trained Crime Prevention Officer I want to try and help you by offering this very basic and common sense steps to reduce the opportunity of your bandroom becoming a victim of crime.

Bandrooms come in all shape and sizes – you might be lucky enough to have a purpose built bandroom with all the modern security measures in place. On the other hand you might share premises, including the parking facilities with another organisation.

You may have a bandroom that your band has used, well, for more years than anyone can remember – yes, it needs a lick of paint, the carpet might be thread bare. It has lots of happy memories though, but most of the members just want to come and play, take part in the social events but little else – not even a spot of painting.

OK the locks are not that good, no problem with the windows though, we’ve nailed them up. With little else going for it what about a few thoughts in the way of 21st century security measures.

First of all create an inventory of exactly what you have in your bandroom, down to even the decorations, next, convert that into a replacement value. Now how much have you got to protect? – That is why you should do more to reduce the chances and opportunities of your bandroom becoming a soft touch victim.

The security of your bandroom should form part of your band’s long term business plan and should be reviewed annually. The value of your worth is going up all the time – how much did that Eb Bass cost you ten years ago and what would it cost to replace? According to current prices it could be anything from £850 to just over £4250, so look at everything in your bandroom it has a far greater replacement value than perhaps your insurance policy reflects.
Look at everything in your bandroom it will have a far higher replacement value than perhaps your insurance policy reflects. If the insurance company say you are 50% under insured and you have a £3000 Eb bass, you can soon work out how much you could get back with the insurance payout.

When you are assessing your security think of the onion peel effect – go through it systematically layer by layer.


Car Parking: You arrive at your band room on a summer’s evening for your twice weekly rehearsal. Always ensure that your vehicle is locked and use a secondary vehicle immobilising device. There are many of these on the market – one of the better types is the shroud or half shroud device that fits over your steering wheel.

Having seen both of these in operation in my own circle of friends the consensus of opinion is that the half shroud is easier to handle by female drivers. Never leave any of your property on display – out of sight out of mind. Particularly your nice new shiny satellite navigation system, all those CDs you have bought in recent times, mobile phone (and all the details of friends and work colleagues you hold in the directory) and anything else that gives your home address away.

Alternatively, you arrive at your band room on a dark wintry evening for your twice weekly rehearsal. The same rules apply for securing the vehicle - but what is the car park and street lighting like? Will the members of your band feel secure walking from their car to the bandroom which itself could be in darkness?

Please remember this situation will be viewed differently by younger members of your band or your junior band. Parents of youngsters arriving may feel it is too dark and choose to take their aspiring young players elsewhere. Remember it has to be as welcoming outside as it is inside your bandroom.

The big day arrives - if you are going to the contest and you are setting off from the bandroom in full light be mindful where you park your vehicle. If you are returning home late into the night the car park may not be as inviting in the area you parked earlier in the day. It’s dark and can be a bit scary.


The security measures expected by insurance companies is that windows should have key operated window locks or, in the case of PVCu then locking handles will suffice. Your main entry / exit wooden door should have a five lever security lock to BS 3621. If your bandroom has a PVCu door a multi-locking system will once again suffice.

What external lighting have you got? – remember your access and exits for younger, female and disabled members or visitors to your bandroom. External lighting at one bandroom I am familiar with incorporated a time switch which avoids un-necessary energy costs. Alternatively, you could install a ‘dusk to dawn’ type of security light. These use 11-watt low energy light bulbs and cost in the region of £6.00 per year to run.

This should now give the shell of your band room the minimum protection – and yes, I appreciate a brick through a window will make entry just as easy but there are further measures that can be taken depending on your level of vulnerability. This could include concertina style grilles or detachable bars or even internal shutters – remember you may need planning permission for external shutters and that might not always be forth coming.

There are other products on the market including ‘Sola – Shade’ – this is an adhesive film that is applied to the inside of the glazing and comes in a number of different strengths from smash proof to bomb proof.


Having the shell of your building as secure as possible, now it is time to turn your attention to the inside of your bandroom.

A burglar alarm perhaps – ‘…One of the lads in the band can fit one of those – cheap…’ – and if it goes wrong at the vital moment and your friend has moved on to another band. Who are you going to blame and inevitably fall out with and more importantly, who is going to put it right.

Hang on a minute, before you go out and get one of those cheap alarm kits that you can install your self. Your insurance company might insist you have an alarm that is fitted by a company which is affiliated to either NACOSS or SSAIB or some other recognised body. If you ignore their wishes as far as they are concerned you have no alarm which could result in your insurance being invalid and not just by that company – don’t forget insurance companies do talk to each other.

You need to be aware of the ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) alarm policy.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) of England, Wales and Northern Ireland recognise the rapid development of technology and its use within security systems. The policy details the police response, which can be expected to an electronic security system, which is identified in the ACPO "Requirements for Security System Services".

To enable a security system to be recognised within the ACPO Requirements for Security Services it must comply with the ACPO Policy on Response to Security Systems and a recognised standard or code of practice controlling manufacture, installation, maintenance and operation. Such standards must be in the public domain and not be product based.

The installation and services provided by the installing company and an alarm receiving centre/monitoring centre, shall be certified by a UKAS accredited certification body in accordance with the provisions of the ACPO Requirements for Security Services.

It should be noted that police response is ultimately determined by the nature of demand, priorities and resources that exist at the time a request for police response is received.
(The policy’s introductory paragraph)

‘…But those kind of alarms cost a lot more money…’ – of course they do, but what value do you put on the contents of your bandroom – think about it.

A point to consider is that too many claims and your insurance company could decide to sever links with you altogether or demand further and even more costly measures. It is no good ignoring it either and then try and sign up with another insurance company – don’t forget what I have said, they do talk to each other - you cannot escape.

So what exactly do you have in your bandroom to protect: Percussion – everything from a cow bell to tubular bells, timpani and maybe the kitchen sink as well? How many of your bass players leave their instruments in the bandroom store? The of course there is that vast music library that you have bought over many years – get it catalogued on a database along with all your instrument serial numbers and an up to date valuation.

Tell your members you are going to create a database with all the equipment they as individuals have been issued with. You need to ask them about their details going on your computer as data protection issues may be involved if you don’t.

Once this database is complete, consider giving them a paper hard copy then at such time they leave you both know what has to be handed back in. There would be then no need for all these uniform, music, instrument and music stand amnesties we have all read about.

Talking of stands my name has been glued on to the stand I use in the same way the engraver glues on name plates to shields and cup plinths – I have never lost my stand – that old adage ‘…my stand has disappeared so I will take someone else’s…’ has never happened to me.

Over the years your band will have won prizes – even my old band had a couple of prizes awarded in two of those pre First World War Crystal Palace contests. The prize money has long been spent but they do still have the certificates to prove it and are very proud of them.

Take copies of your band history - old photographs, certificates and other awards – music is covered by strict copyright legislation and it is illegal to copy it (please see Copyright law article on The Mouthpiece for further information on this subject) – you ignore it at your peril. I heard only recently that a school band in America was fined $24,000 (£12,916) for infringement of copyright.

Do not leave band minutes on the premises they will contain vital information to the running of your band.

If you hold a bandroom function and raise a lot of money - where will the treasurer keep the money? – if you think at the treasurer's home, does their insurance cover them for that amount money in the event it was stolen and what is the security of their home like. It could be more practical to install a suitable fire proof overnight floor safe suitably hidden away of course and I don’t mean one of those big old safes that a friend gave you from his old office, you can open one of those almost with a tin opener - do the job right and feel the benefit and peace of mind.

Now we have all heard of property marking – invisible markers and die stamping – the world of security has moved on a pace in recent years from those days.

Smart Water

Chemically based property marking liquids likened in concept to DNA
Profiling and is unique to the registered owner.

It can be painted onto any property and dries like varnish.

Invisible to the naked eye but glows yellow green under UV light

Instant has minute white or silver ‘particles’ that are laser etched with a 9 digit number, which always ends in zero, and which can be read using a handheld microscope (one in every police Station custody office and property office). Smart Water can immediately identify the registered owner of the property from this number

Otherwise a sample can be analysed to determine the registered owner of the property

For further advice about Smart Water and the security of your bandroom contact your nearest Crime Prevention Officer and request the officer visit you at your bandroom for a security discussion. The officer will I am sure be able to advise you how you can effectively reduce the opportunities of you becoming a victim of crime, a crime that could see the end of near end of your band.

Chris Helme 2406
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Staff member
Excellent article, Chris - plenty to think about there!

Just one point about alarms: if installing an alarm, you'll need to think about key-holders who can respond quickly in the event of an activation, whether it is an actual intruder or a false alarm. Depending on the location of the bandroom, you will soon lose any goodwill with those in the area if the alarm is ringing at all hours, apart from which if it rings without any response from the band, it is less likely that other people will respond either. Equally, false alarms will quickly have an effect o the police response - in our area, we've recently had revised guidelines cutting down the acceptable number of false alarms before the police withdraw their commitment to respond.


Bandroom Security - Keyholders

Thanks Peter

You are quite correct with your comments about keyholders - firstly a properly installed alarm should by law re-set it self after 20 minutes, therefore the bell goes off. If you have a NACOSS approved alarm, with a remote signal facility, when the alarm is activated the alarm company receive that signal and use the keyholder details you have sent them to contact a keyholder, as well as the police. If the police attend an alarm activation from a non NACOSS or non maintained alarm then they will refer to the keyholder details you gave them. it is vital that your keyholder details are reviewed annually and don't forget holiday cover. Always update both the police and alarm company of any keyholder updates.

The neighbours will soon get fed up if the alarm does keep going off - my own maintained alarm has been in for five years and never gone off accidentally or for any unplanned or unknown reason. If it does go off regularly for no apparent reason the neighbours will mentally switch off to it and 'oh its that alarm again...' turn over, go back to sleep and do nothing. Look after the neighbours they can be your unpaid security guards. Consider one or two free tickets for your annual concert - they will appreciate it - do not take them for granted.

On keys - how many bandroom keys have you got floating about - '...well Tommy has one, he's been in the band for 30 years...' - so does Tommy have any official need for a key - if not get the key back. The more keys there are out there the less access control you have - keep keys to a minium. You could consider a digital lock for the library/office/bandroom store - but change the number on a fairly regular basis. If you have lost track how many keys are in circulation - start again change the locks and limit the number of keys you issue.