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A Warning On UK Approvals, Certifications And Ratings For Safes

A Warning On UK Approvals, Certifications And Ratings For Safes

There are several UK organisations and bodies that claim to "certify" or "approve" safes to a variety of standards including European Standards despite having no accreditation to do so. 

Why Accreditation Is Important

The European regulation that governs accreditation (EU regulation 765/2008), provides a system and legal basis to verify the facilities and competence of testing and certification bodies. The system includes regular auditing, market surveillance and exchange of data with other accredited bodies and is designed to ensure competence of testing, independence in the certification process and unbiased conditions and results. Essential elements if the goal is to provide accurate data on the burglary resistance of safes that can be relied on.

Accredited European Certification is verifiable assurance that a safe, fire safe, data cabinet or strongroom has been tested and certified under European law. This is proof of standard for insurance, GDPR and litigation purposes. A reputable safe supplier will always provide accredited certification documents for a certified unit. The safe, fire safe, data cabinet or strongroom will have at least one certification plate which can be located on the inside of the door. This will always be a stamped metal plate, never a sticker. The certification plate will clearly state the certification standard, the name of the accredited certification body and an ISO/IEC17065 accreditation. The ISO/IEC17065 accreditation will also be noted on certification documents. All plates clearly state the European certification standard and the name of the accredited certification body, ECB-SVDSCNPP or SBSC.

vds certification logo essa certification logo a2p certification logo SBSC certification logo

VDS badge

If you consider properly accredited European labs that have their facilities and competence regularly audited, fail 70% of safes tested first time, it illustrates that taking unaccredited claims to comply with EU standards at face value is a serious mistake.

There is very little difference, if any, between a certification mark from a body that is not accredited to certify safes, a manufacturer’s badge that makes a claim to a particular EU standard, or a supplier’s badge making similar claims. All are essentially just an “opinion” and not a reliable certification of standards in any sense.

Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB)

LPCB (UK) has never been an accredited certification body for the burglary resistance of safes in Europe yet have issued certification badges in the same format as properly accredited certification bodies for many years. Notably however an ISO/IEC17065 accreditation which will be present on an accredited certification badge is absent on LPCB badges. The fact that LPCB claim to certify their own tests also runs counter to any norms in Europe where both the tester and the certifier are required to be independent bodies. LPCB should not be confused with an accredited certification for a safe in Europe.

The Association Of Insurance Surveyors

The Association of Insurance Surveyors (AIS) are a U.K. organisation who do not claim to be a certification body but have nevertheless taken it upon themselves to produce a list of "approved safes" and make recommendations for insurance covers that they consider suitable for the Republic of Ireland. To quote the groups list from 2015, “The list is appropriate for use in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Eire and AiS makes no representation or promise that it is appropriate for use outside these territories".

The A.I.S. safe list not only gives recommended cash ratings to uncertified second-hand safes but by its own admission lists insurance ratings for new safes that  have never been tested or assessed at all. This allowance however seems to apply only to safes sold by U.K. based suppliers

A quote from the AiS list 2015: “There are still some safes manufactured in the UK which are not tested and the Committee has impressed on these companies that they should have their safes tested by an approved test house.  However, for the benefit of members, the Committee has provided a cash rating for the un-tested safes from these companies based on information provided by them.

It is truly bizarre that a UK organisation feels entitled to make claims regarding insurance cover it considers “appropriate for the Republic of Ireland” while stating that the same recommendations are not “appropriate” for the rest of the E.U. Perhaps the most striking thing about the AIS Safe list is the huge number of safes it contains that should be presumed to contain asbestos and should not be sold in either the UK or Ireland. The AIS "safe committee" responsible for the list are predominantly in the second-hand safe business.

The AIS issue stickers to highlight safes they have "approved". 

Sold Secure

Owned by the UK's Master Locksmiths Association, Sold Secure says on it website that it is "the premier testing and certification house for security products" despite being completely unaccredited. One can only imagine how accredited testing laboratories or accredited certification bodies would view that statement. Sold Secure have even invented their own grading system for safes, gold, silver and bronze, based on their members opinions of certain products. Not exactly the European definition of a "testing" or "certification" house.

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