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An intelligent approach to security

Updated: Jun 12



Kevin Ward, Managing Director of Ward Security looks at the secret to effective joined up security.

While one size fits all is a nice idea, it never, ever applies to security. Every site, every occupier, every situation will have a different requirement. This is even true if sites are physically identical.

The secret to delivering an effective and bespoke solution will always require a holistic understanding and appreciation of the site and challenge at hand. Crucially, many people fail to appreciate the importance of thinking through to how the site will operate, how people interact with the site, and how staff deliver the security function. It sounds obvious, but it is surprising how often security is compromised because the physical elements in place – CCTV, wireless intruder detection systems, signage etc - do not correspond with the human element.

A simple example would be where staff frequently use a fire door for access in and out of a building because it is convenient, and in doing so leave a glaring security vulnerability as front-of-house reception staff aren’t aware of the practice.

The challenge of delivering holistic security is made harder if the security elements that make up the ‘security chain’ are each delivered, installed and managed by different suppliers. For instance, it is common practice for a CCTV company to recommend and install cameras, but then to walk away once the job has been completed, often with no maintenance contract in place. Security staff will be expected to work with an unfamiliar CCTV system that may be antiquated, inadequate or unsuitable for the site and the way the site is used, and which increasingly struggles through lack of maintenance. They cannot maintain or clean the system themselves as that will invalidate any guarantees in place, and in the case of an incident, will have an impact on the insurance cover. When thinking in these tangible risk terms, the risks of a piecemeal approach to security become clear and worrying.

A more intelligent approach would see a single supplier / operator that conducts a from-the-ground-up assessment of the site’s requirements and which factors in the site’s occupants and usage; identifying specific risks and likely vulnerabilities, and delivering a proposal to suit that covers maintenance, management and operation. Such an approach would also ensure the security delivers the all-important deterrent needed.

Bad signage and poorly maintained systems can often signal a poor security stance and can attract unwanted attention. The experienced burglar will have an expert eye for assessing how well or how inadequately secured a site is. Missing signage, and damaged and dirty CCTV cameras will suggest a lax approach by the site occupier. In the case of the fire door example, such behaviour is usually blatant enough to attract the attention of even the most opportunist criminal. It is a sign that security is not taken seriously.

However, if a single operator is in charge of the whole site, all of these considerations can be included in their service contract. They will have installed the CCTV, and probably even the signage, and will be responsible for upkeep and maintenance, viewing every individual element as a vital part of a site-wide whole. They will also be able to identify risky behaviour from site staff (such as the fire door) and will be responsible for educating staff and letting them know what they can and can’t do. They can also supply the front-of-house staff, who can manage visitors to the site, so there will always be a record of exactly who is on site.

Within such a regime it is also easier to incorporate scalability; increasing or decreasing security staff as and when needed, and also to effectively expand the security coverage, for example if the organisation expands into an adjacent site or constructs a new building on site. The signage and technologies employed in this case can match and integrate seamlessly with the original system to give more effective coverage, and all important deterrence.

For the client organisation this intelligent approach to security delivers both cost and efficiency benefits. It also makes the process of site security audit much simpler and helps to streamline the tedious process of insurance.

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