As a business owner or manager, securing your business premises and site are part of your responsibility. Practical steps for ensuring security of both staff, visitors, building and contents will need to be taken if crime is to be prevented or the effects of it, diminished. Here we offer 10 principles of crime prevention, as used by police forces such as the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, to inform your security policy and strategy development.
Criminal threats to business premises
The main threat to businesses in Bristol and other areas comes from theft, arson and vandalism. It is well known that fire damage can seriously erode a company’s ability to continue in business. Vandalism causes damage to building, contents and stock and theft results in financial losses and can impact the emotional well being of staff. Getting your security right is vital for the health, profitability and security of your business.
The 10 principles of crime prevention
Most businesses are required to carry out a risk assessment for their insurance company who then require certain items to be put in place before their insurance is valid. Please click here for the latest advice from Aviva (one of the UK’s top business insurance providers). These 10 principles can inform that risk assessment and subsequent strategy implementation.
- 1. Target hardening. This is the process of making it harder to remove items, damage premises and gain entry to the site. For businesses, this could include fitting more secure windows, shutters and doors, adequate locks to all these items and intruder alarms. Banks and building societies fit screens to protect staff, tills and valuable property. To provide vulnerable or lone staff such as night workers with added protection, you can consider installing panic alarms that are linked to police or your burglar alarm. Keeping your property well maintained, is also a good way to make it harder for crime to occur. Fix the perimeter fence, install gate systems, physically secure valuable machinery or stock and install roller shutters if required to windows and entrances.
- 2. Target removal. Remove valuable property temporarily or permanently from your building or site. This is especially relevant after hours. Do not leave computers or other easily stealable electronic equipment on view in front of windows. Schools are particularly vulnerable so staff laptops should be removed from site or secured in locked cupboards overnight. (Large offices will have more difficulty removing computers and other valuable electronic kit from site. Alternative security measures such as window bars or shutters should be considered here.) Valuable shop window stock should be removed at night and money should be removed from tills and either banked daily or put into a safe.
- 3. Removing the means to commit crimes. Set up good work practices with staff so that items that could be used to commit a crime are not left out. Ladders, tools and machinery are frequently used by burglars to gain entry to business premises and by vandals to cause damage. Make sure these are locked away after use. If you have knives or fire arms at your business premises, make sure these are secured at all times. Pubs and night clubs frequently invest in plastic glasses where there is any potential for disorder.
- 4. Reducing the payoff. In the unfortunate event that a burglary does take place, make it more likely that your property will be recovered and more difficult to steal in the first place. Use property marking, post-coding and time-locked safes and/or a main safe. To reduce the effects of an arson attack, install a fire alarm system and keep it well maintained. For prevention of vandalism, CCTV is a great deterrent and results in successful prosecutions if the correct system is fitted.
- 5. Access control. Restrict access to your site and buildings or parts of it. This can be through installing entry and exit systems, setting up identity systems and using simple systems such as an entry book at reception.
- 6. Surveillance.
- Use your staff (security staff and non-specialist staff) and neighbours to keep an eye on your premises and stock as a matter of course. Improve lighting with external security lighting to make it easier to do.
- Use Business Watch (similar to Neighbourhood Watch), if running in your area.
- Use alarm systems, CCTV monitoring and security staff to put off and identify potential and actual offenders. This may, unfortunately, also include your own members of staff if theft is a continuous problem.
- 7. Environmental design. Make your building appear well-kept. Use planting to deter access to perimeter fencing or buildings. Consider where you site seating areas so that they don’t help burglars and criminals access your premises. Add bollards where necessary in order to prevent unwanted access by vehicles.
- 8. Rule setting. Encourage staff and visitors to adhere to basic security measures such as wearing ID badges, signing in and out of the premises at all times, following security policies where you have them in place and using security systems when they are installed. This should include clear responsibilities for who should set alarms, lock up after hours and carry out maintenance and testing procedures to make sure your security systems work effectively.
- 9. Increase the chance of being caught. Manage your security staff and security systems well. Make sure that expectations are understood and procedures are followed for monitoring and recording of activity at your site. Staff training and system maintenance are again important if you are going to catch arsonists, burglars or vandals in the act on CCTV or via an intruder alarm.
- 10. Deflecting offenders. This is more appropriate for larger companies. The idea is to prevent and deter youngsters from committing crime by offering training, education programmes and working with other agencies to influence thinking and attitudes. Work with schools, youth groups, local councils and others.
With so much to take into consideration, getting professional advice on securing your business premises is a good idea. Integrating security systems can be a tricky process, especially if you use several different installers. Using an expert security system company can reduce the costs of installing, taking over or maintaining all your systems and help you to integrate alarm systems with door access and CCTV, giving you just one system to keep an eye on, rather than three or four, and just one maintenance bill.