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 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 their impact, and help resolve them.

We’ll provide more information about the different types of business security systems available, including how they could benefit your company.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. Access control
  2. CCTV cameras
  3. Fire alarms
  4. Intruder alarms
  5. Security doors
  6. Security fog
  7. Security monitoring
  8. Water detectors
  9. How to keep your business premises secure
  10. Business security in London

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.


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, 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?

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.

They 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 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.

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 Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance for businesses using CCTV.

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


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 that trigger 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
  • 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

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 alarm Features
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 that of a 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 (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?

Visit our page on intruder alarms to find out more.


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

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.

From points around the room, security fog can be released that covers 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 in 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.

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. 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.
Guard response and monitoring services are usually paid for 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 to 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 help catch shoplifters.

Alternatively, if you run a construction business and worry about a site in the capital 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.

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 a 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.

Read our article on water detectors for more details.


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

2. 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 above 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? Without one, your insurance claims could be rendered void.
  • 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 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.

Business security in London

Starting a business in London offers entrepreneurs access to a world-renowned market to operate in, as well as an established point from which to reach customers across the UK.

While the rewards can be plentiful, there can be tough times too. One of the most potentially expensive and devastating can be the fall-out from a break-in, or having your business premises compromised.

According to end-of-year crime statistics released by the Metropolitan Police in April 2018, burglary of homes and businesses is up by 11.65% in London. These statistics compared the figures from the financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Additional security features

In some instances, you may not be starting from scratch. Review what security measures your business has already, and how these can be improved. Security services go beyond only alarms and cameras – consider how you can prevent damage in other ways too.

Some ideas for additional security features include:

  • Window grilles – fit bars across windows internally
  • Roller shutters – cover windows with panels externally

If you run a warehouse, these could be especially helpful if you store high-value items so that they’re not on display.

Similarly, businesses in a highly visible location, such as self-storage companies – as well as businesses that don’t experience much passing traffic, such as those on industrial parks – could benefit from the additional privacy and security.

The 2016 research from the FSB discovered that 41% of businesses have installed or upgraded a security system to protect their business. This is an increase of 25% since 2010.

How to choose security services in London for your business

According to the same FSB research, 48% of small businesses have been a victim of non-cyber crime. On average, the businesses affected have been a victim three times.

Creating a security system for your business is an important decision. There are so many factors to think about, as well as the long-term safety of your assets to consider.

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.

In 2016, London was found to be one of the 17 least safe cities in Europe. Mercer, a global HR consultancy firm, compared 450 cities to create the ranking.

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 handy 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 in London specifically?
  • How much will it cost – including the alarm itself, the installation process and the ongoing servicing?

The FSB also found that the average cost of offline crime is £5,898 per business affected.

What to look for in a security company

Security Industry Authority (SIA) license – the UK organisation that regulates the security industry offers the 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 – these include background history and criminal record checks.

  • Awards – has the company received any awards recognising its work?
  • Local knowledge – does it know what security in London in particular will require?
  • 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?

What is the Private Security Industry Act 2001?

This legislation outlines the role and responsibilities of the SIA, including its licensing functions. It details the system for statutory regulation of the private security industry.


Compare products and companies

By now, you’ve learned about the different security solutions available to you, how to find services that match your business’ requirements, and what to look for in a company.

Now, read on to find out about three of the top products and companies.


LSS Security

What does it do? Offers security guard services for a range of sectors in London and throughout the UK.
Why was it chosen? London Security Services (LSS Security) is one of many security companies in London. This company stands out because:

  • It’s award-winning, having won at the AI Business Excellence Awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018
  • It’s an SIA Approved Contractor for security guarding, door supervision and key holding
  • With a four hour minimum shift and affordable rates, LSS Security is an accessible choice for small businesses

Which businesses is it suitable for? Security guards from LSS Security could be particularly useful for bars, clubs and hospitality businesses. Retail shops could also benefit too.


Verisure

What does it do? Provides wireless alarm systems for domestic and commercial properties.
Why was it chosen? Verisure offers compact, portable and sleek alarms that can support additional products, all wirelessly. It’s also notable because:

  • With more than 2.6 million customers, it’s the number one alarm in Europe
  • It offers wireless installation in 24 hours with no structural work required
  • A lifelong warranty is available on its alarm system devices

Which businesses is it suitable for? Choosing Verisure to fit burglar alarms in London is especially suitable for high-end retail businesses, or others that are also strongly design-led.


Arlo Pro

What does it do? A wireless security camera that can be used for home or business surveillance.
Why was it chosen?Arlo Pro is a rechargeable device which offers video monitoring that can be self-installed. It makes for a good choice because:

  • It’s weatherproof, so can be used indoors or outdoors
  • It offers free cloud storage – recordings can be accessed and saved using only the internet
  • Smart features are available, including an app and a remotely controlled siren

Which businesses is it suitable for? The Arlo Pro camera is adaptable, so it can suit a range of small businesses. It’s an ideal choice for companies that are just beginning to use video surveillance, as it allows you the opportunity to expand the system as your business’ needs develop.


What are the next steps?

At this stage, we’ve covered a considerable amount of information, giving you the key details you need to know about business security. For more specific details on each section, click the relevant link below to be taken to the corresponding page:

  • Access control
  • CCTV cameras
  • Fire alarms
  • Intruder alarms
  • Security doors
  • Security fog
  • Security monitoring
  • Water detectors

We’ve also covered some points to consider when deciding how to keep your business premises secure, as well as highlighted key information to know when assessing security needs for London-based businesses specifically.

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, simply complete the form at the top of the page.

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