SJUK Exclusive: Canny Kenny’s mission is making a difference

August 2, 2022

Kenny McHugh, National Secured By Design (SBD) Manager for the Police Crime Prevention Initiative (PCPI), travelled the world in the Army but he’s never been happier in his present role.

Kenny McHugh has much to thank the Tayside police sergeant who turned him away in 1980, as a 16-year-old school-leaver, with the advice: “Get some life skills and come back to me when you’re 21.”

So the young Kenny joined the Army instead but, more particularly, the Royal Military Police and adventure which took him across the world.

After nearly a quarter of a century as a Red Cap, not an organisation for the faint of heart, he joined the police service in Northern Ireland.

It was in the Northern Irish capital one day, as he presented to a group of architects, that he had something of an epiphany.

McHugh, now 59, recalls: “I realised that I do this because I want to make a difference. What is that difference? Well, to prevent crime. That is why I do it. 

“It is initiatives like Secured by Design that make sustainable reductions in crime, that’s why I do it.”

Now, as the National Secured By Design (SBD) Manager, he leads on the delivery and development of SBD for Police Crime Prevention Initiative (PCPI).

With a team of half a dozen scattered around the country, each teaming up with local police forces and member companies.

He adds: “Having travelled the world in uniform, I have seen the good and the bad that this life can bring.I have worked on many projects around the world, and I have seen how a small contribution can make a difference. 

“Isn’t that why we do this and come to work every day, to ‘make a difference’? 

“I have worked on developments where the community will never know that the police have been involved. 

“No shouting from the rooftops, just me and my hundreds of police colleagues around the country quietly making recommendations here and there, shaping the environment to be safer. 

“Parks, shopping centres, hospitals, residential dwellings from Belfast to Basingstoke and Glamorgan to Glenrothes all benefiting from the input of crime prevention and designing out crime officers.  Shaping the built environment for people to live and work safely and free from crime and becoming a victim of crime.”

McHugh points to a diverse mix of professionals with a variety of expertise in specialist subjects. Many of the skills they possess were honed in police forces.

“We revel in the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives, helping to keep our communities safer, both now and in the future.  That’s why we come to work every day, to make a difference, and there is nothing more rewarding than knowing your efforts are having such an impact.”

SBD has developed close relationships with the Home Office, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Department for Culture Media and Sport, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, British Standards Institute, British Security Industry Association, Business Improvement Districts and Cyber Resilience Centres to but a few.

McHugh explains: “Our role as a facilitator between government, policing, industry and standards bodies mean that our work builds in crime prevention at the design stage of products and services.

“Our most recent work is working with the Home Office on the delivery of the Governments Safer Streets initiative. 

“The Safer Streets Fund initiatives combine and expand previous focuses of the Safer Streets Fund and Safety of Women at Night Fund through targeting neighbourhood crime, violence against women and girls and anti-social behaviour, in areas across England and Wales disproportionately and persistently impacted by these crime types/issues.”

The fund’s principal aims are to reduce neighbourhood crime (house break-ins, vehicle crime and thefts from people; bring down antisocial behaviour; decrease violence against women and girls in public spaces and promote feelings of safety from violence in public.

Can building design improve security?

McHugh replies: “It is not just about design we must look holistically at the environment and sustainability.  Sustainability to me is one thing to others it is something else. 

“To me a sustainable environment must give due regard to crime and the opportunity for crime.  Build an environment where people don’t feel safe and your development will fall victim to crime, you might wonder why, well simply, if people don’t feel safe, they will vote with their feet, its called the ‘Fear of Crime’.”

McHugh believes that people simply move on if they do not feel safe.

“We seek to improve the physical security of buildings using products, such as doors, windows, locks and walling systems that meet SBD security requirements.

“In addition, we include proven crime prevention techniques and measures into the layout and landscaping of new developments, such as maximising natural surveillance and limiting excessive through movement.

“We do this by working closely with builders, developers, local authorities, and registered housing associations to incorporate our police crime prevention standards from initial concept and design through to construction and completion.”

Forces throughout the UK have specially trained Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs) who offer police designing out crime and Secured by Design advice free of charge.

McHugh adds: “We have been working with those in local authorities delivering the Safer Streets initiative to give expert advice around crime prevention along with the delivery of training via our Crime Prevention Academy.

“We also continue to work with Government to embed crime prevention into the planning process.

“The role of DOCOs is referenced in National Planning Practice Guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework expresses the importance of addressing crime and its impact on communities.

“This has led to DOCOs working closely with architects, developers and local authority planners at the design stage to design out crime by improving the physical security of buildings and incorporating crime prevention techniques in the layout and landscaping of the immediate surroundings.

“All this security advice and guidance is available in a series of SBD Design Guides which provide an authoritative source of reference.

“They are updated periodically to reflect product innovation, new technology and changing patterns of criminal behaviour.”

What seems to exercise McHugh’s mind is the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) which seeks to encapsulate the physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.

McHugh said: “Looking at today and into the future, connected devices and the IoT is and are playing a massive role in our everyday lives, but how secure are they? 

“The rise of the IoT and smart devices has revolutionised the way we live our lives, at home and at work, with many smart devices allowing you to control them remotely.

“Whether it is a doorbell, lightbulb, voice assistant (Alexa, Siri), kitchen appliance, children’s toy, everything connected to the internet falls under this category.

“However, with the increase in IoT products available and a growing ecosystem of interconnected devices, cyber criminals are targeting and exploiting vulnerabilities of the products and within apps as most are mass-produced without security being in the forefront.”

Without the appropriate levels of security, McHugh argues, any internet connected device or app is at risk of providing cyber criminals with the ‘key’ in accessing and stealing personal data.

He adds: “Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure that all IoT products have the right security in place to protect consumers and reduce the risk of them falling victim to cybercrime.”

Four years ago, the Government published the first Code of Practice (CoP) for the IoT, which had been developed by Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS).

This sets a security benchmark for manufacturers to follow when developing IoT products for the UK market. This is now being influenced by ETSI EN 303 645 and other IoT related standards.

SBD has now launched a new ‘Secure Connected Device’ accreditation scheme for companies providing IoT connected products.

Working closely with certifying bodies such as IASME, BSI and UL, who assess IoT products and services against the CoP, SBD’s IoT Device assessment framework identifies the level of risk associated with an IoT device and its ecosystem, providing recommendations on the appropriate certification routes.

“There is already a connected device for every person on the planet, and they are set to unlock $11.1 trillion of economic value by 2025,“ he explains.

“This concept not only has the potential to transform how we live but also how we work. The IoT is a network of connected smart devices, people, and systems, enabling data to be exchanged, combined and analysed to drive efficiency and innovation.

“IoT spans all kinds of smart devices. This includes everything from mobile phones to coffee makers, from washing machines to door locks, from CCTV cameras to office lighting systems. The opportunities and connections to devices are endless, but the complexity of IoT makes it difficult to build trust in new products and services.

“That is why we are working with the likes of the BSI, IASME and UL to ensure that going forward there is a framework to build confidence in products through independent certification.  We may well be Secured by Design, but we want to ensure products are secure in their design and functionality.”

What do you consider to be a ‘success’ in your role?

McHugh says: “Knowing that every product, every development every piece of advice that we offer all contributes to reducing or removing the opportunity for crime. 

“I know that every single product that achieves that quality mark of ‘Secured by Design’, is fit for purpose and it contributes to less crime or it keeps people safe. I’ll take that any day of the week.” 

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This article was originally published in the August 2022 edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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