Keep your business safe and secure

  • 25 Jul 2022

Written by: Matthew Holliday, Director of Approval Schemes, National Security Inspectorate

The daily security risks posed to small businesses, and those who own and manage them, can range from thefts and burglaries of premises, through to vandalism, arson and criminal damage. The consequences of incidents like these are wide-ranging, potentially affecting premises and equipment e.g. loss of stock and business interruption, with longer-term implications for insurance cover, staff morale and retention.

Cost-efficient, operationally effective and procedurally compliant site security measures should be a paramount consideration for small business owners and managers. They are tangible investments in your business. By demonstrating how seriously you take these risks, and what you are doing to address them, your employees should value such an honest and proactive stance. Staff are also more likely to use security systems properly if they understand and appreciate them.

Actions including the installation of electronic security systems play an important role in visually deterring wrongdoing, as prevention is better than cure. But effectively specified, professionally installed and properly maintained equipment will also subsequently provide protection, should an incident occur, enabling detection and response to deal with it and minimise any impact.

Risk assessment

The first recommended step in specifying appropriate measures to protect your business is a risk assessment, which should be based on operational needs and specific security risks. Some of the guiding factors include the nature, size and geographic location of your business. These considerations will help to effectively safeguard staff, customers and other site visitors, as well as the premises and its contents.

Adopting the castle analogy, in which for example physical perimeter defences such as bollards, locks and shop-front shutters are combined with electronic measures including detection-activated closed circuit (CCTV) surveillance cameras, should provide both deterrence and an external layer of protection.

Intrusion alarms

Police alarm response can only be initiated following a confirmed incident involving the activation of an intruder security alarm system complying with national police policy requirements covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland; similar arrangements also apply in Scotland. This includes remote signalling systems monitored by third-party approved Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) and Remote Video Response Centres.

Changes introduced last year to BS 8243 (covering the design, installation and configuration of intruder and hold-up alarm systems designed to generate confirmed alarm conditions) now place an equal focus on visual confirmation alongside traditional methods, which may in turn offer fewer false alarms and be more appropriate in some situations.

The systems and services provided by the installing company, and the ARC, must be certified by a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)-accredited certification body such as the National Security Inspectorate.

Once various conditions are fulfilled an application can be made to the police for the system to be issued with a Unique Reference Number (URN). This means that if/when an alarm is activated, the ARC will verify the alarm using prescribed confirmation methods before passing on any confirmed alarm to the police, who will duly recognise the system’s URN.



Visual surveillance systems

Small businesses can now take advantage of technological advances to make use of police-compliant video surveillance systems. Their benefits include linking remote monitoring of premises with on-site audio announcements to verbally warn anyone present.

Conforming to recently revised standard BS 8418:2021, they also enable Remote Video Response Centre operators to quickly and easily check whether a detector activation is a genuine security breach and pass any verified incidents on to police for immediate manned response – in line with insurance-related requirements.

Some sites may already benefit from pre-existing security measures, including building intruder alarms. Adding a BS 8418:2021-compliant surveillance system will provide further complementary protection.

Controlling access

Depending on the nature of your business, a variety of access control measures may also assist in protecting premises, both in terms of overall security and segregating specific areas of a building – for example, by safeguarding storage and office use while allowing easier access to other areas.

Door entry mechanisms, for instance, can be standalone devices or networked, as well as being easily interfaced with other systems such as CCTV cameras, e.g. to trigger pre- and post-event recording of a person entering an area using a PIN code, swipe card, proximity token or biometric device such as a fingerprint reader.

Access control equipment’s capabilities are increasingly cost-effective, while embracing new technologies and methods. Accordingly, NSI introduced a 2021 update to its NCP 109 Code of Practice for these systems to help buyers of these systems ensure their specific needs, usability and operating requirements are best met.

This includes important aspects including threat assessment, determination of higher exposure points, expected people flows, means of escape in the event of a fire or security incident, and assessment of the most suitable type of recognition technology.

In conclusion

Small business owners and managers can be reassured that adequately safeguarding their staff, properly protecting their premises and realistically securing equipment including IT systems against external threats is achievable, while also ensuring compliance with insurance policy requirements.

Using a third party-approved/certificated service provider offers confidence that any equipment specified and installed meets the latest standards and best practice. It serves as a demonstrable independent verification of a provider’s competency, assuring their integrity, technical expertise and professionalism.

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