Security for UK small businesses

Protecting your workplace is crucial for both your business and your staff - click on this page to get information on the areas that you need to prioritise.

Business owners will spend much of their time focusing on freeing up cash flow, expanding the company, and generally keeping 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. 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, to reduce the impact of them, and to help resolve them.

Feel free to click one of the topics below to be taken straight to that section.

Why does my business need security?
Your responsibility as a business owner
1. Intruder alarms
2. Fire alarms
3. Camera surveillance
4. Access control systems
5. Guard response
Business security for home businesses
Compare business security quotes

Why does my business need security?

Every sector will, of course, be affected in different ways by various crimes. Using the wholesale and retail sector as an example, the resulting losses in money and stock value show the tangible results of the losses business can suffer.

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According to the Office for National Statistics, the mean value of items stolen or unpaid for in the wholesale and retail sector amounted to £5,443.

For premises that had no experience of any customer theft in the 2016 survey, 22% of respondents explained that they believed this was the result of tight security controls.

Obviously, improving your business security implementation will not completely prevent any losses through theft. It would, however, be reasonable to suggest that improving business security is a useful tactic to help prevent these losses, and save your business time and money.

Your responsibility as a business owner

business owner

Business security has become very affordable, with manageable payment options on offer, including annual and monthly agreements.

Crimes against businesses include theft, damages, fraud, assaults, and threats. These crimes will affect both your business and your customers, so it is your responsibility to ensure you have the appropriate security in place to deal and deter with these issues.

The safety of your staff and customers is of utmost importance. Ensuring your business has fire safety systems, access control, burglar alarms and more is very important to keep them safe. Both physically, and in terms of sensitive information and data.

Different types of business security

There are lots of business security options available to you that can help to protect your premises and staff.

You could consider a joint system that covers all of the bases that are covered in the following section, or you could choose to focus on aspects of security that are more specific to your needs.

Intruder alarms Fire alarms Surveillance Access control Guard response

Intruder alarms

Simply put, a burglar alarm is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make.

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

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

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

Once a sensor has been activated, the alarm will sound, and the relevant keyholders will be contacted, depending on the system you have in place.

Burglar alarms are normally an effective deterrent against theft due to the noise they generate. This effect can be limited, however – it all depends on the type of alarm you have.

Basic bells-only alarm A 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 alarms Dialler burglar alarms automatically call a specific phone number – this could be yours, or it could be nominated family member or friend, once the alarm is triggered.
Smart home-security systems Slightly 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 contract This is a different option to the previous three – you pay a fee (monthly or annually, usually) to a company who will take action on your behalf if the alarm goes off.

Best business intruder alarm systems

Here are some of the best options for businesses on the market when considering an intruder alarm system. These options should suit most budgets, with lower-end services having slightly less functionality than higher-end options.

The following table offers a brief comparison between the three options.

Alarm Cost Rating
Verisure alarm system Bespoke – Verisure provide a free consultation to determine your specific needs and cost ★★★★★
ADT business intruder alarm system From £299 + monthly fee ★★★★★
SECOM intruder alarm From £795 ★★★★

Verisure alarm system

Verisure’s alarm systems will vary from business to business, and so will the price. These factors include specific needs, what type of premises the business is and how big the businesses is.

Before purchasing an alarm system, Verisure will visit you to conduct a free consultation with no commitment to buy, meaning you can still shop around for the best deal. This consultation will then give you a personalised quote with the costings and required items for your burglar alarm system.

Verisure’s alarm system makes use of various device types in order to protect homes and businesses, using innovative technology to guarantee protection.

ADT business intruder alarm system

ADT logo

ADT’s intruder alarm system offerings are similarly varied, with several security devices available to suit your business. With prevention being the best cure for business disruption, and the NSI Gold approved organisation have created intruder alarms that act as excellent deterrents.

The business intruder alarm system will work alongside CCTV, access control and smoke detection systems to ensure a fully integrated system, ensuring full security.

ADT’s Smart Business app allows users to have control over their alarm system away from the premises, meaning you can be sure that your premises are secure even when you’re not on site.

SECOM intruder alarm

secom logo

SECOM offer another personalised system that will suit the exact needs of your business, offering Grade 2 and Grade 3 intruder alarm systems. This depends on the risk level that your insurance company assigns to your premises – low to medium risk is Grade 2, medium to high risk is Grade 3.

These risk levels will be based on various factors, including your building, the products you will be protecting, and your location.

Both Grades are equipped with anti-tamper devices, self-actuating sounders fitted to the outside of the building, with Grade 3 coming with an anti-masking facility. This feature will create an immediate alarm signal to indicate that the lens of the equipment has been blocked in some way.

Intruder alarms Fire alarms Surveillance Access control Guard response

Fire alarms

According to the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), 60% of privately owned businesses will not recover from a fire and the resulting knock-on effects.

fire alarm

The damage caused to property, alongside the loss of data and the hours required to recover are often too much for many businesses to handle.

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

Small office security systems are available for less than £200, meaning that an entry point product can be very accessible for all.

The other option, like most aspects of business security, would be to install the system yourself. This would save money, but having a professional install the system will be much safer and more effective.

During times of recession, fire safety can often be the victim of cuts to save money. Ensure this does not apply to you – businesses can suffer heavy fines if found to not be complying with safety regulations.

Implementing an effective fire alarm system requires various steps, some of which may/may not be relevant to your specific business.

Things to remember

  • Determine the size of your business and the how complex your fire strategy will be
  • Smaller premises may simply use a system that splits up the premises into various fire zones, triggering an evacuation if a fire occurs
  • 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
  • Designing the overall fire alarm system will ensure the installation is effective. I will 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
  • Consider whether your fire alarm system is capable of carbon monoxide (CO) detection – highly recommended
  • Decide whether you would benefit from a fire alarm supplier maintaining a constant monitoring of your system to provide 24/7 safety, taking the necessary steps on your behalf to contact the fire brigade and other relevant actions

Many businesses may benefit from a fire alarm system that alleviates the risk of false alarms. The fire service are entitled to recover costs for false alarms, with some services blacklisting businesses after too many.

To save your business money, and the fire service’s time, ensure your fire alarm system is the right fit for your business and is regularly maintained.

Fire alarm system equipment and prices

Type of equipment Price Information
Control panel £100-£1200 You will pay more depending how advanced and capable the control panel is. Paying more for a greater level of sophistication will often be a sound investment for your business’s and staff’s safety.
Smoke and flame detectors £5-£150 Detectors in the lower price range will generally be non-connected, with higher end options more powerful at detecting smoke or flame.
Manual activation points £20-£100 As mentioned already, prices will increase with greater capability and quality.

Intruder alarms Fire alarms Surveillance Access control Guard response

Camera surveillance

Whether your budget is large or small, CCTV and camera surveillance (referred to herein as surveillance) can be made to work for your business.

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

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 damages retrospectively. This could be done by identifying the persons involved, or using the footage as evidence in an insurance claim.

Differences between CCTV and camera surveillance

Whilst both types of surveillance work essentially in the same way, recording events that may cause a problem to your business, the two are used much differently.



CCTV is a system that records a location through a series of cameras, saving the footage to a local, private storage location.

An example could be a small shop, with a camera at the front entrance, a camera of the main area of the shop, and a camera to record the till area.

This footage is fed onto monitors and saved (not available to the public) to an internal storage, such as a hard drive. This all takes place on a closed-circuit, only privately accessible.

Surveillance camera

surveillance cameras viewed on tablet

Surveillance cameras are a more recent entry into the world of security cameras.

Instead of a closed surveillance system that feeds onto a monitor or set of monitors, surveillance cameras like Verisure’s Cloud Cam range are accessed remotely.

This can be done via a smartphone or tablet, with the footage being saved to the cloud rather than a hard drive or local location.

CCTV and camera surveillance products

Depending on the needs of your business and the specific route you choose to go down, your first decision is to choose between CCTV or a surveillance camera. There are, of course, a huge range to choose from, so we have chosen a few of the best from some of the biggest brands.

The table below includes a brief comparison of the best options.

Brand Camera Type Rating
Verisure CloudCam Pro Surveillance Camera Surveillance camera ★★★★★
ADT Business CCTV range CCTV ★★★★★
SECOM Business CCTV systems CCTV ★★★★

Verisure Cloud Cam Pro surveillance camera

Verisure’s non-CCTV Cloud Cam range offers businesses a new route into security surveillance, saving footage straight to The Cloud. This system does not require a monitor to constantly feed the signal to – as the Cloud Cam can be accessed as and when you choose, via a smartphone or tablet.

The key benefit of this is that you will not need to implement a large CCTV infrastructure into your business, meaning you can keep track of your premises without needing a dedicated monitor setup. The Cloud Cam also records in HD and can record in night vision up to 5 metres.

ADT business CCTV range

ADT have a wide range of cameras on offer as part of their CCTV service, with options that will allow you to choose a device that is right for your business.

Some of the key features of the range include:

  • 180 degree panoramic view or 360 degree view
  • Robust and vandal resistant, using a high-impact protective casing
  • Compact and discreet, whilst still offering crisp, high-definition footage in all lighting
  • Excellent low light performance using built-in IR illuminators

SECOM business CCTV systems

SECOM’s CCTV comes in two seperate forms: more standard CCTV systems, and Internet Protocol (IP) systems.

The more standard CCTV systems offering offers everything you would expect, including a range of camera types (dome, bullet or box), day/night imaging and mobile connectivity.

The IP system is slightly different – by using IP CCTV instead of analogue, the resolution of the picture can be much higher. This means pictures with much greater detail, making it much more suitable for evidence and other uses.

Images can be recorded centrally onto a Network Video Recorder (NVR), or locally at the camera, using an on-board SD card. This SD card option is suitable for smaller businesses and domestic locations, giving a more simple and ready CCTV solution.

Intruder alarms Fire alarms Surveillance Access control Guard response

Access control systems

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

access control system

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 (fingerprints, retina scans).

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

  • Eliminates the need for mechanical keys – mechanical keys can fall into the wrong hands, be lost or damaged, and are often difficult and expensive to replace
  • Can often be integrated with intruder alarms and CCTV/camera surveillance equipment
  • Restrict 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
  • Depending on the provider, smart cards can often be multi-function, useful for vending machines, printers and other equipment
  • Some providers offer this functionality on smartphones and smartwatches
  • Can make the process of denying entry to terminated staff and other unwanted visitors

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?

Intruder alarms Fire alarms Surveillance Access control Guard response

Guard response and monitoring

Guard response and monitoring is a slightly different security system for businesses, in that it is a service rather than a hardware system, like fire alarms or CCTV cameras.

A security company off-site will have access to your full security, including CCTV, access control systems and intruder alarm. They 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.

This means that you will have someone on your premises quickly, which could potentially be the difference in the case of a break-in or fire.

Selecting the appropriate service for your business

Guard response and monitoring services are usually paid for annually or monthly, and so are a recurring cost. As a result, it is worth taking the time to make sure both that your business can afford this in the long term, and that it is worth it for your needs.

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. In any case, it is worth contacting suppliers to ensure that you get the right information that you need.

Business security for home businesses

Business security for home businesses is just as important as security for a business premises, such as a warehouse. A home office can contain sensitive information or expensive stock, and needs to be protected as such.

Home businesses can include:

  • E-commerce businesses, such as an eBay business where some may store stock on their premises, in an unused bedroom or garage
  • As stated above, a home office for any business type
  • Areas of a house that are used for babysitting
  • Anywhere you invite members of the public into, for example, an art teacher or languages teacher using side room or living room to conduct lessons

The most simple way of viewing this, is that you can claim as a business expense the area of your house that you carry out business. If this is an office that takes up ⅙ of your home, then you may be able to claim ⅙ of your business security costs as a tax-free business expense. logo

Caution is advised when claiming expenses for home security. All businesses are different and will qualify differently. There is a large grey area, and lots of research and even professional advice is strongly recommended.

To be absolutely sure, visit the UK Government’s self-assessment page for contact details in order to receive accurate and up to date information on your situation.

Compare business security quotes

Hopefully, this page has given you enough information to make a considered decision when implementing security into your business.

If you would like to receive quotes that are tailored to your business, and be put in touch with suppliers that can discuss your needs in more detail.

The process is quick and easy, and could help you save lots of money and time in the future.