How to keep your business premises secure

Securing your business premises is vital. Learn how to protect against vandalism, arson and theft

The cost of criminal damage to your business can be high; theft, vandalism and arson are all risks you should closely guard against to ensure your employees and property remain safe. Whilst you cannot eliminate the risks, you can use a methodical approach to recognise and guard against the most potent ones.

This article is intended as a guide to securing your premises against crime. It covers:


How do you assess the security risks?

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.
  3. 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.
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 – Especially useful if you have security guards (see below), CCTV can be used to deter thieves, alert staff and police of a break-in, and catch criminals after the event. Bear in mind that by collecting people’s images on CCTV, you are storing ‘personal information’ under the Data Protection Act and you will have to comply with signage and data storage requirements. Read up on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance for businesses using CCTV here.
  • Electronic alarm systems – You have various options when it comes to electronic alarm systems. Ask:
    – 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?

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. Learn how to do so in this article.


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 shopping around for 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.

Summary

By reading this article, you’ve learned more about some of the key security measures you should take to keep your business premises secure. This includes assessing security risks as well as reviewing what security measures are currently in place in your business. Plus, the main electronic and physical security measures you can take have been highlighted.

The key benefits and risks of contracting out your security have also been outlined. However you decide to implement them, security measures are key to protecting your business.