Lock and Keys

Central management of all locking devices is crucial to ensuring a robust and reliable system of control and accessibility

The Imperial College Locking Policy is in place to provide the following:

  • To safeguard personal property and College assets.
  • To ensure the safety of staff, students and visitors to the university.
  • To comply with accessibility regulations and fire codes.


The College is fitted with a wide range of locking systems:

  • Manual
  • Corkey
  • Digital Keypad
  • Electro Magnetic
  • Electric Strike
  • Computerised Access Control
  • Chains and Padlocks
  • Lockable Panic Bolts

Manual locks account for the majority of locking mechanisms fitted to doors

Manual locking is not suitable in all areas e.g. those requiring a higher degree of security and control. However, it remains the most suitable and cost effective for the majority of applications. The aim of this policy is to reduce the number of types of locking systems where manual locking is adequate.

It should be noted that any lock is only as effective as the construction of the door, frame and hinge. It is also dependant on the room user(s) being security conscious.

At present difficulty is experienced with:

  • The number and variety of keys security staff need to carry per building.
  • The inability to access a large number of rooms in an emergency, or lock them when found open.
  • Lack of accurate key records.
  • Servicing.
  • Ordering, installation and key cutting.

The practical problems are:

  • The inability of security staff to gain access to rooms out of normal working hours which is dangerous and costly in emergencies.
  • It is not cost effective for security to have to force open doors in order to rectify a minor problem.
  • Security cannot assist staff in entering rooms if they do not have keys.
  • An uneconomical, unresponsive and inefficient service.
  • Poor security over key cutting and duplication.

Objectives of a College Manual Locking Policy

Manual Locking Policy objectives:

  • An effective master and sub-master suite system, which allows departments flexibility in mastering and suiting of locks.
  • The ability of Security, on a controlled basis, to gain speedy access to all rooms in emergencies, (particularly outside normal working hours) or to lock rooms that are found open, under guidelines agreed with the departments.
  • A reduction in the number of keys per building carried by Security staff.
  • The introduction and maintenance of proper records and accountability for keys.
  • An improvement in services to staff regarding the ordering, installation and cutting of keys, and control over duplicate keys.
  • The reduction of unnecessary expenditure and wasted time.
  • The replacement of deadlocks with "slam-locks" with the capability to snib back the locking tongue, except where deadlocks are specified for a security reason.
  • The fitting of secondary locking on external perimeter doors in compliance with paragraphs 6.10 and 6.11, paper B, The Building Regulations.

Practical implications of the Policy

Imperial College London requires all projects and refurbishments to comply with the common locking system across the College, providing a master and suite framework to meet Departmental needs.

Selection of System:

  • Mul-T-Lock system is currently the approved College manual locking system.

Issue of keys

  • A record of all keys issued is required to be maintained by departments and security in order to maintain system integrity.
  • Effective control of master and sub-master keys on a restricted daily or job and return basis, against signature from the security control or building managers.
  • In highly sensitive areas where it is considered security should not have immediate access, special procedures using sealed and numbered pouches are in place. Security will issue the key from the pouches only against an agreed signature list.

Methods of achieving the Policy

To ensure the recommended locking system is fitted, whenever re-suiting is required security will liaise with departments and the Project Team in the project planning stage to ensure that the proposed locking system proposed meets the locking policy of Imperial College London.

Extract from Building Regulations, paper B Section 6

  • 6.10 "The time taken to negotiate a closed door can be critical in escaping. Doors on escape routes (both within and from the building) should be readily operable, if undue delay is to be avoided." Accordingly the following provisions in paragraphs 6.11 to 6.18 should be met.

Door fastenings

  • 6.11 In general, doors on escape routes (whether or not the doors are fire doors), should either not be fitted with lock, latch or bolt fastenings, or they should only be fitted with simple fastenings that can be readily operated from the side approached by people making an escape. The operation of these fastenings should be readily apparent and without the use of a key and without having to manipulate more than one mechanism. This is not intended to prevent doors being fitted with hardware to allow them to be locked when the rooms are empty. There may also be situations such as hotel bedrooms where locks may be fitted that are operated from the outside by a key from the inside, by a knob or lever etc.

Ordering locks and keys

All enquiries regarding locks and keys within Imperial College London should be sent to your Building Manager.

Advice on issuing keys

  • Keep a record of all keys issued in order to maintain system integrity.
  • Effectively control master and sub-master keys by issuing them on a restricted daily or job and return basis.
  • In highly sensitive areas, special procedures are in place, using sealed and numbered pouches. Security issues the key only against the agreed signature list.

Locking systems and project advice

To ensure the best locking system is fitted, Security will liaise with departments and the Project team in the planning stages.

  • The type of locking system required is dependent on the location of the door, the type of area to be secured and the number of users requiring access.
  • The College’s approved manual locking system is Mul-T-Lock.
  • Find out more about Security Services.