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Don’t Panic!!

As the global elite begin to commission to building of panic rooms across the leafy suburbs of Chelsea and Kensington, Lockforce asks whether we’ve entered a dangerous new world…or whether it’s simply the paranoia of the super-rich that’s heralding in a golden age for the security industry...

It was the Queen who pioneered the vogue for panic rooms over a decade ago following the 9/11 attacks, when fears of leaving the Royals unprotected against Al-Qaida attack prompted the rapid construction of panic rooms at both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. Featuring 18-inch steel walls that are fire and bullet-proof, these regal rooms of last resort are estimated to cost the UK tax payer £1m a year! Since then demand for panic rooms have increased manifold, with wealthy expats from the Middle East and Africa spiking demand, fuelled by paranoia that their wealth leaves them vulnerable to kidnap, theft and murder.

Indeed, one London estate agent has gone so far as to disclose that pretty much every single mega mansion in the capital has a panic room hidden within its vaults or behind a bookshelf. Each tend to hold essential amenities such as satellite phones with direct line of communication to the police or personal security. CCTV that enables the enclosed to see what’s going on outside their vault is also standard, whereas the more pricier panic rooms can come installed with lighting, plumbing systems and even their own filtered air supply!

However, you wouldn’t know…for the first rule of installing a panic room is never to talk about it! Unlike your new Olympic swimming pool or glossy gym, the panic room is an addition to the house that people prefer not to boast about on the golf course.

The commercial panic room sector has also seen a boom in recent years, with panic board rooms that offer bullet and even nuclear protection in increasing demand across the City. Some high-profile CEOs have even gone as far as purchasing panic podiums to protect them from assassination when giving speeches in external venues.

However, with reports out this week that violent crime has reached record lows across the UK, are these fears unfounded? Most likely. One safe-room specialist admits that customers who have relocated from unstable regions, come to the UK with an engrained sense of paranoia about their personal security, overlooking how safe London actually is! As for the niche industry enjoying the spoils of yet another bumper year, we're sure they feel a little bit of panic never hurt anyone...