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There are several definitions for the term lockdown, the most common of which pertains to a state of containment or a restriction of progression.

In its most common usage in corrections units, the term "lockdown" can be defined as a course of action to control the movement of inmates. There may be various levels of "lockdown". Confining all prisoners, except workers, to their cells until the end of the day is a good example of a "lockdown period" in a corrections schedule. However a "full lockdown" is used when all prisoners are locked in their cells to prevent a riot from spreading or during an emergency.

A lockdown is an emergency protocol to prevent people or information escaping, which usually can only be ordered by someone in command. They are also used to protect people inside a facility from a dangerous external event: schools practice lockdowns in the wake of the Columbine High School massacremarker in which students with guns enter the school; or from an internal event: prison facilities also practice lockdown procedure on their inmates when faced with rioting or unrest.

A partial lockdown means that the doors leading outside of the building are locked and people may not exit or enter the building. A full lockdown means that people must stay where they are and may not exit or enter a classroom, apartment unit, store unit, an office space, condo unit or to enter or exit the building. If people are in a hallway they must go into the nearest classroom, apartment unit, condo unit, office space or store unit.


In December 2005 the New South Wales Police Service initiated a 'lockdown' of the Sutherland Shiremarker and other beach areas of New South Wales to contain race rioting (and retaliative strikes). The New South Wales Labor government, in an emergency sitting of parliament, passed an array of amendments to legislation giving the New South Wales Police Service additional powers to 'lock down' targeted areas and roads within New South Wales. The legislation introduced to deal with the 2005 Cronulla riotsmarker was the Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Public Safety) Act 2005 (NSW). The Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Public Safety) Act 2005 (NSW) amended four separate pieces of legislation:
  • Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW)
  • Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)
  • Bail Act 1978 (NSW)
  • Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW).

Under their new powers, the New South Wales Police Service 'locked down' targeted areas and roads at Cronulla, Bondi, Coogee, Maroubra and Brighton-le-Sands to prevent persons of middle eastern appearance from committing reprisal attacks and prevent white supremacist agitators from further violence.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks a three day lockdown of American airspace was initiated to prevent any remaining perpetrators from escaping.

An example of a campus/school lockdown was demonstrated at the University of British Columbiamarker on January 30, 2008 where an unknown threat was made and the Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker (RCMP) issued a lockdown on one of the buildings on campus for 6 hours, cordoning off the area and a campus alert was sent via email to everyone who is affiliated with UBC while students and faculties were to remain locked in the building.

On April 10, 2008 two Canadian secondary schools were locked down due to suspected gun threats. George S. Henry Academy was locked down in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker at approximately 2:00p.m.. The Emergency Task Force were contacted and the lockdown lasted for more than two hours. New Westminster Secondary Schoolmarker was locked down in New Westminstermarker, British Columbiamarker at approximately 1:40 p.m.. The Emergency Response Team (ERT) were called and the school was under lockdown until 4:30 p.m. Due to the size of the school, some students were not able to leave until 7:00 p.m.

Additional use

A digital lockdown is to prevent all outward flow of information on a computer, including internet access, and internal applications. It is used to prevent the spread of viral infections, and glitches in the computer, or to keep a computer hijacker from stealing information.

See also


  1. Cause for UBC Lockdown still uncertain but initial posting may reveal some clues
  2. Police increase presence at UBC following lockdown
  3. Threat prompts lockdown at UBC
  4. NORTH YORK: Two charged after George S. Henry Academy lockdown
  5. Teen arrested in connection with school lockdown

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