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Every business needs to make decisions about where best to invest its hard-earned cash and in the face of increasingly sophisticated criminals, security is often high on the priority list.
Whatever size or shape your business may be, theft and criminal damage can be a huge financial headache. Not to mention the growing threat posed by cybercrime.
Counting the cost
Statistics from the Home Office show that 28% of UK businesses have been affected by burglary in recent years, with around 49,000 carried out and a further 40,000 attempted in 2015 alone.
Each crime of this nature cost businesses an average £3,986, with 12% of firms experiencing a burglary every single year. (source Abloy)
So, the threat is real and the cost could be substantial. But what can you do about it?
Going on the defensive
The best defence will always be to deter a would-be criminal from attempting anything in the first place. Then, if the worst does happen, to have taken every possible step to minimise the potential physical and financial damage that could be caused.
The lack of any visible security measures, or a security presence, can be a gift for would-be criminals. Opportunistic thieves are likely to consider an unprotected office building, shop, or business an easy target.
As well as preventing or minimising criminal acts, another benefit of having effective security processes in place, is that you could potentially see a reduction in your insurance premiums. Some insurers may also insist that certain measures are being used, so it’s always worth checking your policy and its requirements.
Duty of care
As an employer, protecting your premises and equipment isn’t the only issue you have to be concerned about. You also need to ensure you are compliant with all legal obligations and duties of care you have towards your employees.
For example, if employees work alone on the premises out of hours, or hold keys and are tasked with attending were an alarm to go off, then you are legally responsible for them. Your ‘lone worker’ requirements include assessing any risk and providing help or backup as required.
Having professional security support in place
When it comes to managing your security needs, employing security personnel in-house is one option. However, it isn’t going to be within everyone’s budget - particularly if you operate from a large site, work across multiple sites, or want 24hour cover.
Using the services of an external security provider is one alternative that can prove very cost effective, if you use an experienced and reliable firm.
Mobile patrols are a popular choice. By having patrols take place at random times out of hours, you have the deterrent of a physical security presence on site, but also minimise the time any would-be criminal has to act.
There are also options when it comes to key holding, locking and unlocking the premises and responding to alarms. Using a professional security team for these functions can help take added pressure off employees.
Of course, there is always the option of combining the in-house and external support services, if that would provide the best fit for your individual business’ needs.
Another area to think about is your security systems and the equipment and technologies you are using.
Data security is a big issue nowadays but that doesn’t mean you can take your eye off the ball when it comes to your physical property.
Advances in technology mean security systems are now getting more and more sophisticated. Start by asking yourself:
When to comes to managing your workplace security, there are some key steps you can take to improve its effectiveness:
1) Highlight risks and delegate key jobs
Get the basics covered. Have individuals take responsibility for key jobs, such as checking doors and windows are closed at the end of each day. This can be particularly important in the summer months, when the weather gets warmer and windows are likely to be opened. Ensure that someone you trust is responsible for closing and locking all windows and doors at the end of the day. If you need to, introduce a log book that is to be filled out and signed by the person once it’s been actioned. And make sure you have a back-up plan to cover illness and holiday periods.
2) Think about lone worker protection
Consider other ways of working that will help you avoid having people working late or coming in out of hours. Don’t ever leave one person working on their own. Anyone who is watching your premises will know who is manning the building and having just one employee on site leaves both them, and your company, vulnerable. If employees need to get in at all times for the business to run, then take steps to protect them. Make sure you know your obligations when it comes to lone worker safety and use external support if you need to. Don’t wait till something happens to act.
3) Audit company key holders
How currently holds keys to your premises? Is it someone you trust? Are they a good timekeeper? Make sure you have a strict policy in place and never give a key or code to a new employee, or anyone you don’t know well. Also ensure you have contingency plans in place for holidays and sickness absence.
4) Review your CCTV system and signage
Not only are cameras a great deterrent, they can also offer legal protection in the case of a break-in. Check your CCTV system is fully operational, fit for purpose and that you have clear signs in place telling people they are being watched. Stop yourself looking like an easy target, the more hassle and risk it appears your site would be to break into, the more likely it is that a criminal will try their luck somewhere else.
5) Have an emergency response policy
Do you have a rapid response team in place to deal with an alarm, or emergency situation, should it arise? Someone responsible needs to be ‘on call’ at all times. When on duty, they need to be contactable at all times and to abstain from alcohol, in case there is a problem. It can be helpful to document your emergency response process and what you expect of those involved, to try and avert any issues down the line.
6) Guard your assets
Get into the habit of having employees lock up their laptops, work mobiles and any other expensive equipment, when they are out of the office. If someone were to go into your offices, this would keep them out of sight and also make it far more time consuming to steal them. Have all these items electronically tagged and where possible, locked with a key code too.
8) Protect your paperwork
It’s not just equipment that needs to be kept safe. Store all important documents in a lockable cabinet. You may also want to consider using a fire proof cabinet for this purpose, which will offer extra protection on that front as well. If anything does get stolen, then having your most important documentation to hand can considerably ease the potential laftermath.
9) Do regular security audits
Check for any weaknesses in your security systems and processes. Check for things like blind spots on the CCTV cameras, a shared entrance, an unmanned reception desk. All these things can often go unnoticed by a business, but could be easy pickings for a would-be criminal. If you spot any potential problems, then act on them. Conduct regular security audits to check for anything new or that needs to change with the evolving needs of the business.
10) Keep an eye on local news
Finally, keep your eyes open. If burglaries are occurring regularly in your region, it’s time to step up your security. Networking is a great idea too, as being part of a local group will give you a greater understanding of the broader security issues in your area. Plus, try to forge a strong relationship with your building management team and other tenants, to create your own secure network.
For more information, or expert advice on your own security requirements, please call the team at Venture on 0800 021 3949.
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