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Business security

Protecting your workplace is crucial for both your business and your staff your staff. Read on to find out about the business security systems that can keep your business safe.

Business owners will spend much of their time focusing on freeing up cash flow, expanding operations, and generally keeping their heads above water.

Because of this, business security can take a back seat. It is often implemented as a reactionary measure following a crime, rather than in a precautionary or preventative manner.

For many businesses, this can be hugely problematic. Theft of sensitive documents, or damaged property as a result of a break-in, will spell disaster. And to make matters worse, this will often be very expensive to resolve.

Implementing security measures that suit your business should be one of your main priorities, in order to prevent issues, reduce their impact, and help resolve them.

But what security measures can you take to protect your business? What are the best alarms out there? And how much does good protection cost?

We'll provide more information about the different types of business security systems available, including how they could benefit your company. We’ll also show you how to go about implementing security measures to benefit your business.

Click on the links above to learn more about that particular section. Or, you can read the whole article for a complete guide to business security.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to compare quotes for business security now, fill in the form at the top of the page.

How to keep your business premises secure

You should start any review of your security procedures by assessing the actual risks posed to your particular premises. This is a two-pronged process:                                                                                                                                                   

  1. Find the vulnerabilities in your security.

In particular, look for:

  • Unsecured ground-floor windows and doors
  • Particularly valuable items attractive to thieves
  • Flammable material
  • Easily scalable walls and fences
  • Potential getaway points
  1. Assess the particular threats facing your business.

Use the Police.uk website to find the most common types of crime affecting your neighbourhood, and speak to local businesses to see if they have been affected by any particular type of crime.

What are some basic precautions you can take against crime?

Whilst you should take measures to guard against specific threats to your business, you should also take some basic, sensible measures that will drastically decrease the threat posed by crime.

In particular:

Control access to your building.

Put a receptionist near the point of entry, and tightly control who comes in and out – make sure every visitor states their business, and is given specific permission to come in. Supervise them whenever possible – entry passes and lanyards are generally a good idea if you have frequent visitors.

Give one person responsibility for security.

This person should have overall control of the security procedures already in place, and review what needs changing or improving periodically.

Develop a clear security policy – and get employees to follow it to the letter.

Make it clear that employees should ask unrecognised visitors their reason for visiting, and report them to the head of security if they are suspicious. Stress the importance of keeping keys and other methods of access secure, and make sure someone is allocated responsibility for locking up and securing the premises at night.

What physical security measures should you take?

Putting in place the following physical security measures will not only guard against theft and other types of crime, but will keep your insurance premiums down too.

You should take the following measures:

Ensure locks and keys are secure

British Standard 3621-certified locks are highly secure, and are often required by insurance companies. You can install locks with registered keys – this means duplicates can only be made with the owner’s written consent. Additionally, work out a system of code for matching locks with their corresponding keys which cannot be readily understood by someone unfamiliar with the code.

Keep windows secure

Ensure all windows are closed and securely locked when the building is empty. Burglar bars are a good investment if you are particularly worried about break-ins – purchase grilles made of steel, rather than iron, and see if you can get them fitted internally for an extra layer of protection.

Secure the perimeter of your property

If your property is surrounded by a wall or fence, consider installing barbed wire to deter thieves from climbing over. If you are located in a built-up area, illuminating all the gates and points of entry is a good idea, as bystanders can easily spot someone trying to break in. Always lock gates with a padlocked steel chain at night.

What electronic security measures can you take?

As well as physical deterrents to crime, you can install electronic systems to protect against threats to your premises. In particular:

CCTV – CCTV can be used to deter thieves, alert staff and police of a break-in, and catch criminals after the event. See below for more information.

Electronic alarm systems – You have various options when it comes to electronic alarm systems to protect your property. See our intruder alarm section for more details.

How do you guard against IT theft?

Computers and other IT accessories will often be the most valuable items on your premises, and hence are a particular target for thieves. Consider taking the following measures to guard against equipment theft:

  • Keep IT equipment away from windows and easily accessible places
  • Chain valuable items to the floor
  • Keep network servers in a locked room and tightly control access
  • Lock away laptops and portable IT equipment when not in use
  • Mark IT equipment with permanent ultraviolet pens, so you can identify it as yours if it turns up later

In addition to the physical security measures outlined above, you should take various precautions in order to keep your data safe.

How do you guard against arson?

Take the following precautions:

  • Fit out your premises with fire alarms and smoke detectors
  • Keep flammable material away from where people can access it
  • Ensure that the right kind of fire extinguishers can be found throughout the building

Should you contract out your security?

If your business regularly deals with expensive goods or quantities of money, it could be a particular target for criminals. Employing a security company to look after your premises could be a wise investment in these circumstances.

When choosing a security company, ask yourself:

What security services do you need?

Security companies can provide a range of services, including:

  • Inspecting existing systems and identifying areas of risk
  • Installing security systems to deal with these risks
  • Inspecting or patrolling premises on a regular basis

Do you need a security guard?

You might wish to have a full-time guard protecting your premises outside business hours – or, if threats are particularly prevalent, during normal office hours as well. Factors to consider here include:

  • Does the guard come from a company certified by the British Security Industry Association or the International Professional Security Association (the two major accreditation bodies representing security firms in the UK)?
  • Does the guard hold a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence? 
  • Has the guard been screened by the security company in accordance with BS 7858:2012 standards? These are pre-employment screening checks.

How do you mitigate your loss?

Despite your best efforts, your business could still become a victim of crime. You should have procedures in place to minimise any loss that occurs in this unfortunate situation. In particular:

  • Draw up an inventory of all your assets, and mark all your property with serial numbers. Take photos of everything. Send this to your insurer.
  • You are most at risk immediately after a break-in; criminals will know that you will soon replace the stolen items, and may return for a repeat performance. Make sure you are especially on guard in the weeks following a break-in, and replace any damaged or broken points of entry and security measures.
  • Involve the police and your insurer immediately after the event.

How to choose a security provider for your business

Some key areas to think about are outlined below to help you research, plan, and ultimately, acquire the security solutions your company needs.

What’s your budget?

Think about how much you’re willing to spend on security. The initial cost can be offset against the price of any additions, as well as repairs or replacements. As well as this, consider what other outlay you’re likely to experience in the worst case scenario: if a crime is committed against your business.

What type of premises does your business occupy?

A lot of your security decisions will be driven by aspects of your property, including the size, shape, and layout of the space. Additionally, the level of security required will alter depending on what equipment, products, or other valuables you’re protecting.

What style of security do you want?

If you want to maintain a strong brand image, or have a clearly defined design strategy, then opting for security that blends into the background is likely to be best for business – for example, alarms or security cameras that operate wirelessly.

Alternatively, if you want to make it known that you have security protection in place to act as a deterrent, then you’re likely to choose security services that stand out – for example, security guards, window grilles, security doors, or roller shutters.

What to look for in an alarm company

When choosing an alarm, you’re not only selecting the device – there are a range of other products and services available, too. What these are, and how much they cost, will depend on what level of security your business needs.

The National Safety Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) are the two main certifying bodies for organisations providing security and fire protection services in the UK.

Here are some useful questions to ask prospective companies:

  • How long is the response time?
  • What repairs and maintenance services do they offer?
  • What level of approval from the NSI and/or the SSAIB do they have?
  • Do their products offer any exclusive features?
  • Do they have an understanding of the challenges of protecting businesses specifically?
  • How much will it cost – including the alarm itself, the installation process, and the ongoing servicing?

What to look for in a security company

Security Industry Authority (SIA) license – the UK organisation that regulates the security industry offers compulsory licensing training to ensure security workers are qualified and maintain the highest standards.

To apply for a license, a person must have completed a formal training programme and received a recognised qualification. There are five stages in the process before a license is awarded to an individual, which include background history and criminal record checks.

  • Awards – has the company received any awards recognising its work?
  • Relevant knowledge – does it know what security for a business entails?
  • Membership – is the security company a member of an industry trade association? For example, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has membership criteria to assure quality and professionalism
  • Price – what is the cost per hour? Is there a minimum time requirement?
  • Recommendations – what do other businesses have to say about them?

Top business security providers

In this section, we go into more detail about some of the best security providers for businesses.

Top providers at a glance

Security providerBest forPrice
VerisureQuick installation processPrices are available upon request
SecomRange of productsVariable; contact provider
ADTIndustry experiencePrices are available upon request

To compare quotes for business security, simply complete the form at the top of the page.

Verisure: Best for a quick installation process

Verisure provides wireless alarm systems for domestic and commercial properties. And with more than 3 million customers, it’s the number one alarm system in Europe. 

It offers a compact, portable, sleek alarm that can support additional products, all wirelessly. The Verisure 3G Control Panel is the centre of its alarm system, with surveillance cameras, detectors, panic buttons, and more all able to be added to the system. It offers wireless installation in 24 hours with no structural work required. And better still, a lifelong warranty is available on its alarm system devices.

Choosing Verisure to fit burglar alarms is especially suitable for high-end retail businesses, or others that are also strongly design-led, as it offers wireless products with a minimalist aesthetic. 

Prices are available upon request.

Secom: Best for a range of products 

With the ability to choose from intruder alarms, access control, and CCTV, as well as fire alarms and monitoring services, Secom is the best for its range of products. 

It works with both small and large businesses, and so can create a system that is suited to your business requirements. Having worked with some major UK retail brands, it could be particularly suitable for retail businesses.

Secom offers wired and wireless alarms at a variety of price points, as well as security cameras that use CCTV and IP technology. Video analytics and monitoring services are also available. Plus, it can offer fire alarms and other protective aspects of fire safety, such as fire extinguishers and emergency lighting.

Starting prices vary, depending on which products you choose – contact the provider for more information.

ADT: Best for industry experience

ADT offers intruder alarms, CCTV, access control, security fog, and fire detection, as well as monitoring and maintenance services. With 24/7 support and the ADT Smart Business App, it’s easy to access your system and keep in contact with ADT. Plus, it’s NSI Gold accredited.

With 145 years of experience, and the ability to offer multiple forms of security protection, ADT is the best for industry experience. Therefore, it could be ideal for small businesses that are just starting out and want to use an established provider.

Prices are available upon request.

Fire alarms

Minimising the threat that fire poses is crucial to protecting your business, your assets, and most importantly, the safety of your staff.

The steps to implementing an effective fire alarm system are:

  • Determine the size of your business to establish how complex your fire strategy will be
  • Smaller premises may use a system that splits up the premises into various fire zones, which trigger an evacuation if a fire occurs within them
  • Larger premises may use an addressable fire detection system, in which each fire detector will have a unique address. This will allow incidents to be identified and dealt with in a precise manner
  • Take into account the needs of your business and premises to create a reliable system that will cope with fire risks in order to protect life and property
  • Ensure your fire alarm system is properly installed and maintained
  • Ensure your fire alarm system is capable of carbon monoxide (CO) detection
  • Decide whether your business would benefit from a fire alarm supplier. These constantly monitor your system to provide 24/7 safety, contacting the fire brigade and taking other relevant actions if necessary
Fire alarmBest forPrice
VerisureMonitoring servicePrices available on request
SecomBespoke designPrices available on request
ADT Multiple detection – carbon monoxide, heat, smokePrices available on request

What type of business should have fire alarms?

Just about all businesses will need to have a fire alarm, and if you own the property, then it’s a legal requirement to ensure the premises meet fire safety standards. 

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) recommends having a smoke or heat alarm in every room that a fire could start in. How complex the system needs to be will depend on your premises – for more information, read the LFB guide to fire alarms.

Have a look at our article on fire alarms for more specific details.

Intruder alarms

Intruder alarm systems can be made up of many aspects, depending on your business type. These include:

  • Motion detectors
  • Shock sensors (for windows, glass fittings and more)
  • Sirens
  • Perimeter detectors
  • Panic buttons

This could be a DIY alarm that you purchase and install yourself, or a professionally fitted system.

Type of alarmFeatures
Basic bells-only alarmA basic bells-only alarm will make a loud noise, which will usually deter the burglar and alert your neighbours or passers-by. It will not contact anyone, though, including yourself, family/friends, or the police. Essentially, you are relying on the sound deterring the burglar.
Dialler burglar alarmsDialler burglar alarms automatically call a specific phone number – this could be yours, or that of a nominated family member or friend – once the alarm is triggered.
Smart security systemsSlightly similar to dialler burglar alarms, a smart burglar alarm will contact you or nominated members when the alarm goes off through an app on a smartphone or tablet.
Monitoring contractThis is a different option to the previous three – you pay a fee (often monthly or annually) to a company, who will take action on your behalf if the alarm goes off.

Other points to consider include:

  • Does the alarm conform to British Standard 4737 specifications? Again, this is often required by insurance companies
  • Does the alarm just make a noise, or does it connect to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC)?
  • Does it include alarm confirmation technology to guard against false alarms?
  • Is the installation company certified by the National Security Inspectorate?

The 3 best intruder alarms

Intruder alarmBest forPrice
Verisure 3G Control PanelQuick set-up timesPrices available upon request
Secom Wireless Intruder AlarmRetail businesses£795+
ADT Custom systemsPrices available upon request

What type of business should have intruder alarms?

Most businesses could benefit from having intruder alarms – the level of security required will depend on your business, including the type of stock you have and the nature of your premises. 

Whether you opt for a basic bell-only alarm or a fully monitored service, intruder alarms offer additional security for greater peace of mind while you’re away from your premises.

Visit our page on intruder alarms to find out more. 

To learn more about prices, visit our alarm systems costs page. Or, for more information about alarms in general, read our commercial alarm systems for small business guide.

Access control

Access control systems allow businesses to control who can and cannot enter a premises, limiting the risk of unwanted intruders.

These systems can be relatively simple to operate, offering various entry mechanisms from simple keypad entries to networked swipe card systems, or even biometric entrance (such as fingerprints or retina scans).

Access control systems have a much greater range of uses than simply preventing intruders, however. These include:

  • Eliminating the need for mechanical keys – mechanical keys can fall into the wrong hands, can be lost or damaged, and are often difficult and expensive to replace
  • Integration with intruder alarms and CCTV/camera surveillance equipment
  • Restricting access to areas that may be unsafe for unqualified members of staff
  • A simple and effective way to track full records of personnel and visitors in the building
  • Smart cards (depending on the provider) can often be multi-function, making them useful for vending machines, printers, and other equipment. Some providers even offer this functionality on smartphones and smartwatches
  • Making the process of denying entry to terminated staff and other unwanted visitors easier

Providers offer access control systems alongside telephone and video screens, meaning your business has the flexibility to choose what suits you best.

When choosing the added features, such as fingerprint entry, video feeds, and multi-use smart cards, focus on the specific needs of your business. Will your staff benefit? Will this increase productivity? How simple is the system?

ProviderBest forPrice
SecomClear pricingFrom £550+
ADTSmart access controlPrice available upon request
KisiCloud-based access controlPrice available upon request

What type of business should have access control?

Access control offers an additional layer of security that could be especially helpful for businesses with high number of visitors, as well as those that have premises with certain areas restricted for specific team members only, such as those with on-site CCTV camera and monitoring hubs, or those that store hazardous chemicals that require training to handle.

For more information, read our page on access control.

CCTV cameras

Whether your budget is large or small, CCTV and camera surveillance (referred to herein as surveillance) is an invaluable security measure for your business.

Cameras can be placed indoors or outdoors, and can record in colour, HD (high-definition), and in daylight or darkness, with prices varying accordingly.

What are the benefits of a CCTV or surveillance system?

Implementing a surveillance system works both in a preventative manner and in a retrospective one:

  • It is an excellent preventative measure, deterring intruders and potential issues before they arise
  • It is also a useful way to help identify and document evidence retrospectively if a crime has taken place on your premises, including break-ins, criminal damage and theft

In ideal situations, a surveillance system will deter would-be criminals – thus preventing a crime – or help solve the issue and limit the damage retrospectively. This could be done by identifying the persons involved, or using the footage as evidence in an insurance claim.

What’s the difference between CCTV and camera surveillance?

The key difference between CCTV and surveillance cameras is that CCTV saves the footage to a local, private storage location.

In contrast, surveillance cameras save to the cloud and can be accessed remotely, such as via smartphone or tablet.

Bear in mind that by collecting people’s images on CCTV, you are storing ‘personal information’ under the Data Protection Act, and will have to comply with signage and data storage requirements. Read up on the Gov.uk guidance for businesses using CCTV and data protection. Also, consider the impact of GDPR.

The 3 best CCTV cameras

CameraBest forPrice
SecomComplete security systemsPackages available from £695+
Swann 8 Channel 5MP Super HD DVR Security SystemScalability£299.99
Nest Cam IQ OutdoorOutdoor use£329

What type of business should have CCTV cameras?

While many businesses could use CCTV cameras, they are particularly helpful for businesses that have premises in an out-of-the-way location, or blind spots in certain areas of their site.

To learn more, check out our guide to the best CCTV cameras.

Security doors

Whether you need an external door to protect your premises from the outside world, or internal doors that can withstand fire, security doors are a key aspect of business security systems.

Some points to consider when choosing security doors include:

  • Material – steel security doors can offer enhanced protection and act as a visual deterrent, while wooden doors may look more familiar and provide more discreet security
  • Cost – how much you can afford to allocate per door
  • Size – available as a single door or double doors
  • Locks – think about the number of locks, as well as the type of mechanism e.g. multi-point locking
  • Location – the level of security required is likely to differ depending on whether the door is used internally or externally
  • Fire doors – assess if the doors need to be a fire door, which is designed specifically for withstanding fires and smoke. You would use a fire door to create separate areas that (with the fire doors) could help to stop flames or smoke from spreading around your building. Conversely, as fire doors must remain closed, you wouldn’t use it in an area where you want to keep the doors open, for instance.
  • Design – colours, windows, and fittings are some ways in which security doors can be further modified to meet your individual business’ requirements

The 3 best security doors providers

ProviderBest forPrice
Banham SecurityBespoke designPrice available upon request
Cooks Industrial DoorsIndustrial specialismPrice available upon request
Latham’s Steel Security DoorsetsSteel doorsFrom £1,499.99 + VAT

What type of business should have security doors?

Many businesses should have security doors, both to reinforce your business’ protection from the outside world and to help protect your business as part of your fire strategy. 

Read our security doors article for an in-depth look at this element of business security.

Security fog

Security fog is positioned as an effective deterrent for would-be criminals, as it operates with the logic that if intruders can’t see what’s in the room around them, then it’s more difficult for items to be stolen.

Released from points around the room, security fog can cover an area with dense fog very quickly. It offers an additional layer of protection for your property, and can be used alongside an alarm system or CCTV cameras.

Some potential benefits of security fog include:

  • Once installed, it offers 24/7 protection
  • Harmless and non-damaging fog is available
  • It can cover a large area
  • It can be used by a range of different types of businesses
  • The security fog system may be connected to an alarm system

While security fog can be used in a variety of environments, it could be particularly suitable for retail businesses – especially those that sell jewellery or other high-value products.

Similarly, businesses that are left unattended for long periods of time or during nighttime could also benefit, as the fog is released as soon as it’s activated.

The 3 best security fog providers

ProviderBest forPrice
Verisure ZeroVision AlarmARC activationPrice available upon request
ADT Security FogQuick release timePrice available upon request
UR FogAnti-tampering featurePrice available upon request

What type of business should have security fog?

Security fog works on the simple premise that if intruders can’t see, then it’s not possible to steal goods from your business. As such, it can suit a wide range of businesses. However, jewellers and other businesses with high-value stock could find security fog a particularly beneficial form of security.

Learn more about security fog on our dedicated page.

Security monitoring

Security monitoring is a slightly different type of business security system, as it’s a service, rather than a hardware system (like fire alarms or CCTV cameras).

An off-site security company will have access to your full security, including CCTV cameras, access control systems, and intruder alarms. The company will monitor these feeds, usually 24/7, and deal with any security issues on your premises on your behalf.

Most providers will aim to deal with any issues within minutes, at any time of day or night, notifying the relevant emergency services and dispatching their security response.

Guard response and monitoring services are usually paid annually or monthly.

Suppliers will factor in several variables when providing you with a quote for alarm monitoring, so it can be difficult to provide exact costings.

These costs will depend on the size and nature of your business, as well as your location and the more specific details of your premises.

Which types of business is security monitoring suitable for?

Choosing to use security guards from private security companies could be particularly beneficial for hospitality businesses.

For example, door staff (also known as bouncers) offer frontline protection for your bar or club. Plus, they can help you to stay compliant with the law, by checking IDs of people coming onto your premises.

Another sector which often benefits from security guards is retail – shops can use security guards to monitor customers, and to help catch shoplifters.

Alternatively, if you run a construction business and worry about a site being a target for crime overnight or other long stretches of time, security guards can patrol it to ensure its security.

Depending on the type of system, you may require security guards to monitor CCTV for your business. See above for more information on security cameras.

The 3 best security monitoring providers

ProviderBest forPrice
VerisureAlarm monitoringPrice available upon request
SecomEnd-to-end security solutionPrice available upon request
ADTChoice of response typesPrice available upon request

What type of business should have security monitoring?

Handing over your business security system to specialists is suitable for a variety of businesses, but those that have complex needs or operate across multiple sites may find this particularly useful. 

Also, if you run your business remotely and so aren’t in the area or country, then using a local security specialist could offer additional security and peace of mind.

Read our full page on security monitoring for more insight into this aspect of business security.

Water detectors

What would you do if your business experienced a water leakage? It may be easy to overlook this, but water detectors can form an integral part of your business security system.

Whether you’re looking to protect a server or boiler room, or to monitor fridges and other equipment in a commercial kitchen in a restaurant, there are a number of reasons why your business might need one.

They can also be effective in showers, toilets, and other areas of your premises where water leaks could occur.

A water detector may be able to:

  • Identify leaks
  • Send a notification
  • Shut off the system
  • Sound an alarm
  • Connect with other devices

Offering round-the-clock monitoring against water damage, water detectors are available to suit a range of business’ needs, from simple devices through to options with more extensive functions.

As water damage can be an expensive, lengthy process to repair, water detectors offer protection against worst-case scenarios.

The 3 best water detectors

ProductBest forPrice
D-Link Wi-Fi Water Leak Sensor DCH-S161Long cable lengthVary according to retailer; prices from £29.95
Vimpex HydrosenseBattery standby lifeVary according to system; conventional panel available from £274.93
Honeywell Lyric Water Leak & Freeze DetectorEstablished providerVariable, available from £88.17

What type of business should have water detectors?

If you have showers and other full bathroom facilities on your premises, then water detectors could be a necessity. 

Similarly, if you run a business that would be particularly impaired by water damage – for example, a restaurant with fresh food on-site – then consider water detectors to protect your property.

Read our article on water detectors for more details.

Next steps: Compare business security quotes

At this stage, we’ve covered a considerable amount of information, giving you the key details you need to know about business security. These include the different aspects of a security system, as well as how to keep your premises secure and how to choose a provider. 

For more specific details on each section, click the relevant link below to be taken to the corresponding page:

Or, to receive information and quotes that are tailored to your business, and be put in touch with suppliers that can discuss your needs in more detail, fill in the form at the top of the page.

Business security: The FAQs

Here, we answer some of the most common queries about business security.

1. How can a business improve its security?

Your business may already have some security measures in place – if so, you should review these measures and think about how you can enhance the protection they provide. In addition to alarms and cameras, some ideas for additional security features include window grilles and roller shutters, which are fitted across windows internally and externally, respectively.

2. Why does a business need security?

Protecting valuable stock, deterring would-be intruders, or offering a safe environment for your staff: these are some of the main reasons why a business needs a security system. Plus, it can offer you peace of mind for when your premises are unoccupied.

3. What are business security requirements?

When creating a security system for your business, there may be a number of requirements that influence it. Your business insurance policy could have certain stipulations you have to meet. Also, consider the type of building, as well as the stock stored there.

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Scarlett Cook
Scarlett Cook

Scarlett writes about a wide range of topics on the site, from business security to digital marketing and EPOS systems. She can also be found writing about diversity and sustainability in business, as well as managing the Just Started profiles.

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