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New Zealand’s recent mosque attack in Christchurch, in which 50 people were murdered, has prompted Britain’s police forces to deploy armed officers outside of mosques. As well as this, British Muslim leaders are now calling for the UK government to provide funding for mosque security to prepare for anything unprecedented.

Citizens of any faith have the right to feel safe and protected in their chosen place of worship. People go to these places for their own personal beliefs and reasons and therefore, it’s imperative that their lives are not put at risk and that they feel safe.

There are numerous options available which can be implemented quickly and effectively to safeguard your site. We’ve outlined some of the most effective:

 

Access Control

By having access-controlled entrances and exits, you will be able to restrict who has access to your site. An official reception area, with either a receptionist or security guard to allow access via log books, Biometrics or ID passes will help to limit access to only those who sign in. We can also manage access control remotely from our Head Office Control Room.

 

Security/ID Passes

ID passes should be given to all those who visit or work in the building, with regular reviews made by appropriate appointed staff. If there are quieter, private areas, staff should escort visitors to them and make note of who was last in the area, perhaps instilling a limited time on use. Passes should not be taken off, clearly displayed on the relevant persons and given back to reception when leaving the premises.

 

Security Guards

Hiring static or manned security guards is considered to be one of the most effective ways to ensure only those who have been granted access enter your site. As well as providing a visual deterrence effect, officers can physically witness anything suspicious and report it quickly. Security officers can either be stationed at areas such as entrances and exits, or carry out mobile patrols of the site, including car parks and open areas.

 

Good Housekeeping

Maintaining tidy and well-kept premises will ensure that anything left unattended is spotted and reduce the likelihood of false alarms. Locking cupboards, windows and doors securely, as well as unoccupied offices and rooms will also help keep premises safe. Limiting how many display objects, such as plants, will also prevent criminals from hiding objects behind them. Generally keeping areas uncluttered will help identify anything problematic quickly.

 

Alarm Systems

Installing alarm systems and having regular service checks will provide added security when the site isn’t in use, alerting you of any intrusions immediately. Criminals are less likely to break into the building if there are visible alarm systems on display.

 

CCTV Cameras

One of the most used methods to deter criminal activity are CCTV cameras, which can be valuable evidence in court whether or not anything took place. Cameras should be installed near all access points, corridors, reception areas and car parks but also in ‘blind spots’, such as areas which would be hard to access. They should be placed high up so that damage and interference is unlikely.

 

Effective Lighting

Effectively using lights can give the impression that your site is consistently under surveillance after the Sun goes down. Sensory lights will illuminate areas in which potential intruders could try to access, which will make them feel exposed. Keeping lights on in reception areas or in front-facing windows will also give the illusion that the building is being monitored or is occupied.

 

Bag Screening

Any bags or forms of luggage which are taken into the site should be checked for suspicious items either manually at intervals or through screening devices. Organisations or Public Venues have the right to refuse entry to anyone who does not allow their possessions to be searched, but body searches may only be carried out with the agreement of the individual. Checks should be random and not predictable but anyone who is visibly acting suspicious or carrying anything that looks threatening should be reported immediately to the authorities.

 

Mail Checks

Suspicious items could be delivered in the mail and therefore checks should be implemented which will determine whether a package is safe. The National Counter Terrorism Office gives the following advice on spotting suspicious items:

  1. Do not touch
  2. Try and identify an owner in the immediate area
  3. If you still think it’s suspicious, don’t feel embarrassed or assume that somebody else will report it
  4. Report it to a member of staff, security, or if they are not available dial 999 (do not use your mobile phone in the immediate vicinity)
  5. Move away to a safe distance – Even for a small item such as a briefcase move at least 100m away from the item starting from the centre and moving out

 

For more advice about how to protect your premises from terrorism, visit the National Counter Terrorism Security Office website. 

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.