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Entry Protocols laid out by the Guild of Master Locksmiths UK.

Below you can find the Guild of Master Locksmiths protocols for a locksmith who has to gain entry to a door in an emergency situation. This is so the public know what stages and steps are followed in gaining entry. This will help you, the general public so that you can identify a fraudulent or inexperienced locksmith. These are what we believe should be followed but each situation is different and locksmiths are reacting in real time. But here is the outline.

Protocols for entry

These protocols are set out to look at gaining entry to door, be that on a residential or commercial property during a lock out or lock in emergency situation. 

Stage 1 - NDE Technical entry: NDE Technical entry is when a locksmith carry's out the refined skill of lock picking, a None Destructive Entry technique. This is the first stage of any lock out. However with the advances in todays lock technology, not all locks h=can be hand picked as it takes many years of refined skills to become a expert lock picker. Some of the hardest locks in the UK to pick are locks such as KABA dimple pin locks, ISEOR11, R9, Ultion 3 Star, Yale Triple Platinum, Mul-T-Lock to name a few, such locks contain more than the standard 6 pins and they often have magnetic pins, interactive fixed pins. There has been advances in locksmith technology with specialised picks being created which will help to pick such high security locks. However these lock picks cost hundreds each pick so you will expect to pay a higher premium to use a locksmith who has such tools. These are not standard tools and can only be bought with security clarence. 

Stage - Methods would be:

  1. Picking by hand

  2. SPP Single pin picking by hand

  3. Raking and or rapid attack entry by hand

  4. Lock decoding entry​

  5. Making up a key for entry (mortice locks)

In the case of a lever lock -  The locksmith will try and manually hand pick the lock. If that does not work they may use a lock decoder to try and make a new key to open the lock. But this only works if its a working lock. If the lock has failed the locksmith will need to move to destructive entry to gain access. If nether picking or making a new key is an option then the locksmith will move to technical entry. 

Stage 2 - This would be when a picking lock by hand has failed. Its best to always hand pick locks as it causes less damage to the cylinder or levers positioning but if hand picking has failed the next method would be EPG which stands for Electronic Pick Gun. This is a specific tool that helps the locksmith replace the handing picking skill but at 100 revolutions per second. So it could be said that its similar to 100 attempts of hand picking per second. If this has failed then the locksmith would move to the next stage. 

Stage 3 - Lock bumping. This is a skill that only works on a limited number of doors and again the tools are security protected as each lock requires a specific key to preform this skill. Is this fails the locksmith will move on to the next stage. 

Stage 4 -  If the lock is a dimple cylinder then the locksmith may try a method known as foiling. This has a small window of success. 

Stage 5 -  a form of destructive entry: When all of the technical skill sets have failed, this can be due to the lock being anti pick, anti bump, anti, pull, anti drill etc. The locksmith will opt for a destructive form of entry. Often this can mean the following:

  1. Drilling the lock in some way, often known as milling

  2. Snapping the lock, know as lock snapping if its a cylinder

  3. Lock pulling if its a cylinder

  4. Lock bypass.

Stage 6 - Breaching the door: This is the final form of entry in an emergency situation, we have seen this on many fire doors to flats and apartments in the UK especially when a multi point system fails and leave hooks stuck out into the frame. There are methods of entry which are security protected and we can't disclose here. But in some cases if a lock has not opened on each of the stages outlined and a person is trapped then breaching is the last resort.  

Who pays for emergency work? The cost of immediate damage limitation work by specialist fire and flood, rescue, locksmith, police and other companies, is usually covered by your building and contents insurance, provided that you are insured (unless any specified excesses or exclusions).

Locksmiths are trained to breach doors to prevent excessive damage, often a fire service or police will breach a door and destroy the door and frame, plaster and so on. When a locksmiths breaches a door the tend to only destroy the door. If this happens and you are rescued then you will be required to pay for the door unless it was an issues such as a failed lock. Then the landlord could  pay for the door lock. 

Does a locksmith need my permission to destroy the door? This is a good question but it comes down to the locksmiths terms and conditions. In many cases the terms and conditions are there to protect the customer and the locksmith. Our protocol is to advise the person trapped that they will breach the door and to make sure there are no valuables behind the door. Once this has been established the person trapped can then make a choice to stop the breaching and stand down the locksmith but the person trapped has to make that choice and clearly communicate with the locksmith to STOP. If they stand down the locksmith they will still need to pay for that locksmiths time and any other items they have used. In no way will a locksmith call for emergency services unless it was life threatening, such as a fire or heart attack etc. If you have employed a locksmith to gain entry then they will gain entry by any means but this should always be clearly communicated between the locksmith and the home oner / tenant.


At this point you could opt to use a fire service or police to rescue you. They will also breach the door to gain entry. In some cases your budlings management company if its a block of flats may cover the costs but this is a grey area and the tenant or owner would be required to cover the costs of fitting a new door, frame or any plaster work. The locksmith would not repair any of this. You are paying a locksmith or service to rescue you. Once rescued the clean up can begin but at the tenant / owners expense.  

If a locksmith breaches the door then they will also secure the door, using boarding skills and fitting temporary locks or hardware. 

In conclusion: Each job is different, each home is different. No matter the skill level each locksmith should always follow a none destructive entry to start with, advancing through the many stages before they even think about drilling a lock or snapping, pulling a cylinder.


The locksmith should always clearly communicate with the customer when they plan to move to destructive entry. 


Please contact us via our email to find out more about the protocols that should be followed. If you believe a Guild members has not followed the protocols then please let us know and we can carry out an independent investigation. 

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