In order to protect your people, premises and assets, it’s important that you put in place robust corporate security measures. In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the most important things you can do to ensure your office remains maximally secure.
By conducting an in-depth crime prevention assessment, you will be able to identify your security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. By understanding the nature of the threats your business faces, as well as where your security is lacking, you will be able to implement the most effective security measures for your office. As such, as well as keeping your premises secure, a crime prevention assessment is essential when it comes to allocating resources effectively.
To conduct a crime prevention assessment, you need to ask yourself a series of questions. Your answers should be well-thought-out and honest.
How likely is it that your business will be targeted by criminals?
In order to answer this question, it is worth looking at crime statistics for the area your business is located. These should be available from your local police force. By understanding how frequently corporate thefts and burglaries occur in the vicinity of your business, you will be able to get a good idea about how likely your business is to be targeted.
You also need to consider how the nature of your business may influence the likelihood of it being targeted by criminals. For example, if your business operates in the financial services industry, the data you store may be incredibly attractive to criminals. Likewise, if your business keeps valuable items on site, this may also increase your likelihood of being targeted.
Additionally, the quality of your existing security measures will also play a role in determining your threat potential. If you have in place strong visible deterrents (such as CCTV cameras, alarm systems and security signage) your premises will be more secure than if you didn’t have such measures in place.
Finally, you will also want to assess your business’s history with crime. Has it been targeted previously? If so, how many times? Were the perpetrators successful? What was the outcome – i.e., if they were successful, were they apprehended and were your assets returned? If your business has been targeted previously, this is an indication that criminals believe that your business is a good target for crime. If the previous perpetrators were caught, that may deter other criminals from attempting to steal from you. However, if the perpetrators got away, other criminals may see your business as an attractive target.
Deciding what your target potential is more of an art than a science. There’s no score out of 10 and there’s no universal criteria to compare your business to. However, by using common sense and doing some basic research, you will be able to get a good idea about whether your business has a high risk of being targeted.
Do you take security seriously? Do your employees? Unfortunately, it only takes one security lapse for your business to become vulnerable. This means that you need to ensure that you and your staff take a serious, no-nonsense attitude to security.
If you or your staff frequently overlook or forget certain security protocols (such as failing to lock doors, leaving windows open, forgetting to book in annual alarm systems checked, etc.), then you’re not taking your business’s security seriously enough.
A poor attitude to security can ultimately be what drives criminals to target your corporate premises. Criminals will often scout out potential targets before committing any crimes; if they notice that certain security measures are frequently not adhered to, the likelihood of your premises being targeted increases dramatically.
In order to assess your organisation’s attitude to security, monitor how frequently security protocols are ignored, talk to your staff in order to gauge how seriously they view the threat of crime and assess how consistently you carry out your own security duties.
It’s crucial that one person takes ultimate control of your security program. For many businesses, security is something that no one person owns. As such, these businesses struggle to update and improve their program, hold people accountable for security lapses and maintain adequate protection.
If your business is one of these, it’s important that you nominate someone to assume this role. Whoever is chosen to oversee your security program should be responsible for both your security strategy (including updating the strategy and planning for future developments) as well as for ensuring day-to-day adherence to your security policies.
Such a person will control your security budget and think about how effectively they are able to secure your premises with that budget. No two businesses are the same. As such, the security protocols that will work for your business are unlikely to be the same as the business next door. Your head of security’s role is to ensure that your security strategy works for you. And this means gaining an in-depth understanding of the threats facing your business, what security options are available to counter them and how changes to your business may impact your security. If your workforce lacks experience in this area, using a high-quality security consultancy and facilities management service will help.
It’s all well and good having a fantastic security strategy in place, but if it isn’t properly implemented, your business will be at risk.
How do you ensure that each piece of your security plan is undertaken? For example, do you check that alarms are working? That the building is properly locked up every night? That every ID and/or entry card is accounted for? That valuables are stored safely every night? That important files are kept under lock and key? The list goes on.
It’s important that you are able to enforce every element of your security plan. Doing so requires a robust system of checks, internal scrutiny and consequences for failure. Ultimately, it’s up to your head of security to plan and implement how these checks take place. But, however you do it, ensuring that security policies are enforced is crucial to properly securing your office.
Fire, injury, criminal activity, volatile and violent behaviour, unlawful entry; all these threats can affect your office property. Although these events may be unlikely to occur, you need to be prepared so that, if they do, your staff and assets remain safe. This is where emergency response plans come in.
Fleshing out each of these plans would require a separate article; however, the main takeaway here is that, as part of your crime prevention assessment, you need to look at how prepared you are to deal with these issues. Keep in mind that, although you may have emergency response plans in place, changes to your business may have made these redundant. For example, if you’ve relocated your office, your fire response plan may not be suited to your new premises.
Ideally, paramedics, police officers and fire fighters would appear instantaneously whenever we needed them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Today’s emergency services are stretched – meaning response times may not be as fast as we’d like them to be. On top of this, if your business is in a difficult to reach area – such as a rural industrial estate, for example – it may take emergency responders even longer to reach you.
Find out what the average response times are in your area. Understanding how soon after an incident occurs you are likely to receive emergency help will allow you to put in place interim measures. This may include training staff in first aid, hiring office security guards and investing in more advanced fire safety equipment.
Once you’ve honestly answered the questions above, you’ll have a pretty good idea about whether your existing security practices are enough.
If they are, great! If they’re not, well, you now know what you need to do to make them more robust. In the following sections of this article, we’re going to outline some of the most important elements to a secure office.
Although what counts as good security will vary from business to business, there are some general practices that can help almost every company better protect its people and assets.
To ensure you’re not missing a trick, we’re going to run through the most vital of these.
Modern key-cards store digital information that must be presented for someone to gain access to your premises. There are many advantages to using digital key-cards as opposed to older access control technologies. For example, they:
• Are relatively low cost.
• Make it easy to track who entered your business and when.
• Are easy to replace without physically changing locks or cutting new keys.
• Can be deactivated instantly, meaning that if one goes missing it cannot be used to gain access.
• Are easy to carry.
Access control badges display a staff member’s credentials – such as their name, job title and a photograph – on an easily visible, card-shaped badge. Typically worn around the neck, access control badges make it easy to see exactly who someone is. To ensure they are maximally effective, the photographs used on access control badges should be updated regularly.
Access control badges:
• Make identifying individuals effortless (something that is especially useful in large office environments).
• Are cost-effective and easy to create
• Are easy to carry.
• Are a great aid to security staff.
Having a set of master keys on site can be incredibly helpful. However, if a criminal were able to get their hands on them, they would be able to ransack the entirety of your building. By storing master keys in a security office – preferably in an immovable safe – you will make it much more difficult for thieves to move around your premises freely.
Your security office should:
• Be a small room with only one point of entry and no windows.
• Always be locked – except when in use.
• Be used only for security issues.
• Implement strict access control.
What’s in your rubbish? Bank statements? Payroll details? Personal data? Such documents can be incredibly valuable to a thief. And, even if you (as you should) shred sensitive documents, a full bin may be just as enticing to a thief as an open till. To prevent would-be criminals forcing entry into your property to go through bins, make sure you:
• Empty bins daily.
• Shred sensitive documents.
• Take rubbish outside shortly before collection.
The nature of their roles mean that executives are more likely to have important documents stored either physically or digitally in their offices. To make surveillance impossible, and to make forced entry harder, locate executive offices near the core of your building. Executives should also:
• Lock their office and close blinds at the end of the day.
• Keep important documents stored in a locked drawer or, even better, a safe.
• Ensure proper cybersecurity (such as strong passwords).
Having only one person – or even a small number of people – working in your office makes you vulnerable. This is for two reasons. Firstly, criminals may be able to overwhelm or otherwise take advantage of a single person or a small group. Secondly, your employees themselves may be more likely to commit a crime when working alone. To reduce lone working opportunities in your office:
• Make certain that only trusted, senior employees are able to open up at the beginning of the day.
• Keep track of everyone who’s in the building at any one time – either physically, using a logbook, or digitally, using key-card data.
• Enable flexible and remote working and close your office when only a few people are scheduled to work (such as over the festive season).
Like any pieces of technology, alarm systems can fail. Unless you schedule regular (that is, annual) maintenance checks for your alarm system, you may be unaware of these. In addition, to ensure your alarm system is operating effectively:
• Have it installed by a trusted, certified supplier.
• Procure a high-quality alarm response service.
• Make it company policy to arm the alarm whenever the building is vacated.
Metal theft is an extremely lucrative and, therefore, frequently occurring crime. Of particular interest is copper, which can sell for £3.60 per kilogram. Your telephone and electrical closet is likely to contain – or grant access to – a relatively large amount of copper wiring. In order to prevent metal theft:
• Keep service openings as well as telephone and electrical closets locked.
• Protect crucial communications equipment with an alarm system.
• If available, orientate CCTV cameras so they have a clear view of service openings.
A messy office can be more than just annoying. It can be dangerous. Valuables, keys and important documents can be caught up in piles of clutter, which can be easy pickings for criminals. What’s more, thieves may actively choose to target offices that are in a state of disarray since they may take the mess to be indicative of lax security protocols. To keep your office tidy:
• Ensure employees properly file documents and clear their desks at the end of the day.
• Remove clutter from walkways (especially any items, such as chairs, used to hold open doors).
• Clean any used crockery and cutlery before closing up.
It’s important that you gather information on each of your employees that may be needed in an emergency. Having this information can, in some situations, be a matter of life and death. And even when it’s not, having access to such information may make it much easier to properly address any emergencies that do occur. Your executive information file should contain the following:
• Home address and telephone number.
• Family members (and their names, ages and descriptions)
• School schedules, addresses and phone numbers
• Close relatives living in the area (and their names, addresses and phone numbers)
• Medical history and physician details
• Local hospital telephone numbers.
In some situations, your staff may need to raise the alarm in a discrete fashion. This is most easily achieved using code words. For example, if an employee encounters a violent or potentially violent customer, they could use a code word to alert their colleagues. To create security code words:
• Brief all employees on what code words mean and how to act if they hear one.
• Use code words that are not obvious, but which won’t sound out of context when spoken in your working environment.
• Keep all employees up-to-date on which code words are in use at all times.
While the above tips will go a long way when it comes to keeping corporate premises secure, there’s only so much office managers can do when it comes to implementing effective security. To ensure maximum security, many officer managers choose to procure high-quality security services.
Corporate security officers are specially trained security professionals skilled in enforcing security best practice in professional environments. Corporate security guards provide a range of services, including:
• Concierge security
• Reception security
• Access control
• Health and safety
• First aid
• Physical intervention
• Crowd control
• Emergency service liaison
• Evacuation services
• Out of hours and overnight security
• Bag checks and inspections.
An essential part of many large and medium-sized offices’ security strategy, corporate security officers provide an effective visual against crime and a rapid response to any security issues that do arise.
Offices which have a visible manned security presence are far less likely to be targeted by criminals. And, if they are, having trained professionals onsite greatly reduces the chances of criminals being successful.
Mobile security patrols undertake regular inspections of your premises. This may include perimeter checks, inspections of outhouses and other owned properties, patrols of large outdoor spaces (such as industrial estates) and interior patrols. Choosing mobile security patrols has many benefits, including:
• Comprehensive surveillance over large or multiple premises.
• A rapid response time to any security incidents.
• 24/7 regular security patrols (as well as random inspections to prevent criminals being able to predict patrol times).
• An effective visual deterrent (uniformed guards and marked vehicles).
• An assurance that any necessary minor repairs are carried out quickly (such as boarding up broken windows).
• Physical intervention and first aid.
Whether they’re combined with static guarding or used as a standalone service, mobile security patrols add an additional layer of defence to an office’s typical security strategy. In rural areas – where emergency response times may be relatively high – using mobile security patrols will ensure that any security incidents are dealt with rapidly and efficiently.
Professional key holding and alarm response services form an additional layer of defence to your office security strategy.
A good key holding provider will retain a complete set of keys in a secure, offsite location. This means that, if the need ever arises, you are guaranteed entry to your premises. This service is usually coupled with alarm response, in which your security company will be alerted immediately when your alarm sounds – ensuring a hasty, effective response.
Offices which opt to use a keyholding and alarm response service benefit from:
• Guaranteed access to their property – 24/7.
• A rapid and professional response to alarm activations.
• First aid trained personnel.
• Physical intervention and suspect detention (where required).
• An accurate record of all security incidents.
CCTV security allows you to monitor your property remotely as well as to conduct comprehensive security surveillance on multiple locations simultaneously. A good security provider will be able to properly install a high-quality CCTV system (ensuring that cameras are in the most appropriate locations) and conduct regular maintenance checks of your system.
Your provider will also monitor visual video streams round the clock, taking necessary intervention where needed. Footage can be used as evidence in court if a crime takes place on your property. Companies which choose CCTV security benefit from:
• 24/7 surveillance.
• A rapid response to any security incidents.
• Video evidence for use in court.
• An effective visual deterrent.
Churchill Security is an established UK security company and a provider of expert corporate security solutions.