Moving towards security site verification

The PSSA has long recognised the need for an integrated verification system for high security perimeter installation, as the historical approach of PAS 68 rated Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) products filling gaps in LPS 1175 rated fencing is inadequate for a number of reasons.

Primarily, end users look for advice from external agencies and experts to recommend practical solutions to meet their operational physical security requirements. However, this has involved discussions with independent organisations such as the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), who work with critical national infrastructure sites but does have a large influencing factor on other market sectors, and specialist security consultants to assist with the compilation of an appropriate operational requirement document.

Ultimately, the end user needs to define the threat type they wish to protect themselves from, be it terrorist or criminal attack and their modus operandi. Whilst the PSSA can assist with this definition, it is recognised that the advice from CPNI generally drives the global specification of any physical perimeter security solution.

Whilst in principle this should be adequate, due to the political necessity for the CPNI to remain fully independent, it does mean that they cannot recommend particular solutions which favour one manufacturer over another. This is where the PSSA has a very important role in the process, as it can work with the industry to categorise products in such a way to allow them to be selected and matched together, enabling the end user to select the best product(s) for an integrated solution.

Building on the PAS rating
As a first step, the PSSA decided to build on the recognised PAS rating system and instigate an independently certified verification scheme for individual HVM products. Often PAS has been a misunderstood and misapplied standard when specifying HVM products, as it is a standard that confirms that a product manufactured and installed as tested should perform in the same manner as the crash test. In other words, as long as all the conditions remain equal, the result will be similar but it is fair to say that much changes between the test and final installation, due to numerous variables such as site specific needs, dimensions and ground conditions.

Given the need to accommodate so many variations, the PSSA feel that removing one variable will give clients more confidence in their installation. Therefore, the Product Verification System launched at the PSSA annual conference on 8 December 2011 ensures that the product delivered to the client has been manufactured in exactly the same way as the one crash tested, with the same materials.

With the entire industry present at the launch, the PSSA were pleased with the reaction from the manufacturers, specifiers and end users, who see the product verification scheme as an important step on the road to raising the profile of the industry and generating client confidence.

During 2012, the PSSA expect to see the large number of applications submitted from its members, for verification of products, resulting in a successful conclusion.

The independent verification scheme from the PSSA also encompasses the handling of changes to products to meet site specification requirements. It has long been accepted industry practice to offer ‘engineered solutions’, where PAS results are extrapolated to suit the modification, supported by an independent engineering report from a specialist consultant.

The PSSA scheme has formalised this process, so that the product manufactured is covered by the same stringent requirements and process documentation as the PAS tested product. This offers continuity and consistency of approach, giving client’s confidence in the solution.

Now that the HVM Product Verification System is up and running, the next stage is to develop a complementary fencing scheme.

There is a paucity of standards currently available, with the only recognised scheme primarily dealing with manual attack ratings. The PSSA feel that incorporating this factor with the applicable PAS rating elements will enable a fully compliant series of products to address clients’ HVM challenges.

At the recent meeting on 23 February 2012, the fencing members of the PSSA met to continue their discussions surrounding the fundamental challenges that the clients are asking them to address. It is clear that the plethora of fencing applications and lack of scheme is leading to client confusion and concern regarding over or under specifying products. As an industry, the PSSA Fencing Verification Scheme will address these concerns.

In reality, the interaction between the HVM product(s) and fencing as an integrated solution to the operational needs of the client is the most important challenge the PSSA wishes to overcome. The current silo approach to this issue, with the stakeholders involved often working independently to achieve a cohesive solution can be time consuming, prone to error and potentially expensive. These two schemes will bring the individual elements together and develop a system which enables clients to specify and match relevant products.


The final logical step in the process is an installation scheme, which the PSSA has begun working on. Its brief is not only to ensure that the way an HVM product(s) is finally installed complies as closely as possible to the PAS crash test condition, important as this is, but that it compliments and works with other products on site, be it PAS rated or not, such as access controls.

One key element of any installation should be whole life costs but this is often either overlooked or ignored, which is alarming given the economic times we currently live in. As this should be one of the major decision factors, the suite of PSSA scheme’s will have as its logical conclusion a process for deciding on the most suitable array of products to achieve a commensurate level of security within a given budget.

Whole Life Costs
In fact, the volume of PAS tested products now available for selection by customers has increased competition and reduced
cost. Coupled with an unrivalled level of innovation, offering differing solutions to the same problem, the client needs to have a mechanism of looking at whole life costs as one means of differentiating between manufacturers. Clearly, static products generally require less on-going cost in terms of service and maintenance than dynamic products, so understanding the needs of each site is critical to an effective solution.

However, cost is not the only factor to be taken into consideration. As soon as a dynamic product fails, this can adversely affect the physical security of the site. The PSSA verification schemes will continue to work to improve the reliability of installed products, so that clients’ confidence in their security will grow. Also the PSSA is well aware of how much networking goes on between customers and a consequence of this will be to raise the industry’s profile, further installing client confidence.

From time to time, products are subject to unforeseen damage in genuine accidents rather than hostile attack. Achieving a balance between products preventing attacks but being able to be repaired expediently and cost effectively will also be an integral part of the PSSA verification schemes.

At the end of the day, security schemes involve so many stakeholders, from the end user client, to the consultant and main contractor, all of which have differing wants and needs. The historical piecemeal approach to meeting these needs has relied on manufacturers discussing with each stakeholder their requirements and promoting suitable products. This is not always wholly appropriate, as often what the client initially believes is required in terms of product is very far from the best solution, which can have disastrous and costly consequences. In fact, at the extreme, the solution may not actually prevent the event the client is concerned about, with the resultant repercussions.

Fundamental Driver
A holistic approach to physical perimeter security is one of the fundamental drivers of the PSSA, as it is critical that infrastructure is not only protected initially but is sufficiently robust and reliable in performance to continue the protection for a number of years. The PSSA verification schemes will drive the industry to ensure working with stakeholders during specification and on going operation will successfully achieve this.

Members of the PSSA will be able to not only manufacture and where appropriate install and maintain suitable products, but they will be able to participate and advise at the design stage. As part of the PSSA rules,
all members have to demonstrate an indepth underlying knowledge and experience, as well as undertake a level of training to achieve verification. This means that any client will have the confidence of knowing that the PSSA has independently verified the member’s products and installations, so the advice given at all stages will be robust and improve the effectiveness of the project.

Safe Operation
Another area the PSSA covers is the safe use of product, so a client can be assured that they are dealing with an organisation that can assist with the conundrum of balancing the security of the site with the safe operation of the products installed.

Ever tightening regulations in this area are requiring the clients to seek advice during the planning of the perimeter scheme and the PSSA are well placed to assist.

The PSSA is well down the road towards a truly holistic approach and is setting the standards which it believes the clients have been asking to be addressed. All its members are committed to see the PSSA achieve the raising of standards, both for the industry and the security of our critical infrastructure.

PSSA Seminars
The PSSA will be hosting a number of seminars at the Counter Terror Expo (Day Two) on April 26th at Olympia in London, where you can find out more about the work of the association and gain greater insight into the schemes. The PSSA will be available on stand E177 in the
Grand Hall throughout the event.

For more information

For PSSA membership information and application go to
Tel: +44 (0) 208 253 4509


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