PRACTICAL ADVICE TO IMPROVE PREMISES SECURITY
Businesses that operate from a set premises (like a shop, restaurant or workspace) will often have a significant amount of their assets and equipment on site full-time. This is definitely practical from the point of view of your day to day operations, but can present an appealing target to would be thieves!
When you’re insuring your premises, insurers will often ask that you meet some basic safety and security requirements in order to take on the ‘risk’ of your business and they may use industry terms to confirm those measures are in place. Luckily, these are usually normal ‘common-sense’ requirements and most businesses will already have these in place but the wording used can be confusing.
Good security can help not only by deterring potential thieves, but by reducing the significance of a loss if someone does manage to break in.
Here’s a very basic guide to some ways insurers will clarify your security;
Rim locks and mortice locks are the two most common types of locks doors will have.
A mortice lock is embedded into the physical door, so when you open the door you can see it, but the mechanism is hidden away when the door is closed.
A rim lock is attached the side of the door, and often looks like a little box on one side of the door with another box fixed to the doorframe to hold the headbolt.
Some insurers prefer you to have a 5 lever mortice deadlock, which essentially is just a rather secure mortice (or embedded) lock in your door. When you insert your key into the lock and start to turn the key, levers are pushed to correspond with the shape of the key. The more levers the better, and 5 is the most currently available for standard front doors.
BS3621 is a British Standard for locks on doors and the most commonly requested security measure. You may not know whether your lock conforms to this standard but I can tell you with some confidence that it probably does. It’s a fairly standard lock in the UK.
This means that the lock can be dead locked and requires a key on both sides of the door.
In more detail, the lock should be able to resist attack from drilling for at least 5 minutes and there must be a mechanism in place to resist lock picking. The bolt should go at least 20mm into a steel-encased section of the doorframe when locked.
Window Locks are also an important consideration for any business. Most insurers will ask you to have up-to-date, key operated locks on your windows.
If you have large patio doors, they should be secured with locks at both the top and bottom of the doors, as well as a lock in the middle of the door. This is sometimes referred to as having ‘multi-lock points’.
Sash windows are trickier but not impossible to secure. You should have a ‘fastener’ lock at the point where the two frames overlap to prevent the bottom window being forced up. But you can also get sash stops or sash bolts fitted so that the window never opens past a certain point.
Shutters and Grilles
Most window locks offer a minimum standard of security and can act as a visual deterrent to potential thieves, but you can also incorporate other measures such as bars/grilles, mesh grates, roller shutters or internal collapsible steel grilles. These should meet a recognised security standard such as the LPS 1175 scheme.
There are several different types of shutters, and it’s worth checking that the ones you use are ‘insurance approved’. Steel shutters are the most secure, but aluminium can be a good alternative.
Intruder alarms are another important consideration for any business owner, and we have some basic guidelines that, should make sure you’re more insurable at a lower premium.
We recommend that your alarm system is installed and maintained by a recognised installer. Check that the company you use is approved by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). The company should also be recognised by your local police force.
There are two broad categories of intruder alarm, audible and central station alarms.
Audible alarms will emit a loud noise designed to attract attention and scare off an intruder, whereas central station alarms will notify a remote contact centre that an incident is occurring.
If your alarm includes remote signalling, it should connect to an NSI or SSAIB certified Alarm Receiving Centre.
There are two types of central station alarms that are most frequently requested by insurers; Dualcom and Redcare GSM. DualCom uses a standard telephone line to alert a contact centre/trigger a police response and also sends the alert via radio waves in case the line is damaged. Redcare GSM works in a similar way but also sends a regular ‘pulse’ down the line to detect if the wires have been cut or tampered with.
Intruder alarms are graded under European standards, based on the level of security they offer. Most commercial premises should have a grade 3 system, as Grades 1 & 2 are most appropriate for residential properties, and Grade 4 is for higher-security commercial facilities.
It an unpleasant thought, but your staff are both a great asset and a prominent risk to your business. To demonstrate due care and consideration of the potential risks they pose, you should make sure that you have a lone working policy for any staff that may be on the premises alone.
It is also worth implementing a thorough vetting process/policy and cash-carrying policy to further show your awareness and mitigate the potential risk.
It’s also good sense to keep any contents or valuables secured and out of sight. If possible, valuables and money should be stored in a safe or off-site overnight and tools should be kept locked up when not in use as these can be attractive to thieves.
If your premises has more theft attractive contents and stock or has higher amounts of contents and stock, additional security may be specified over and above the minimum requirements. Geographic location is also a factor; a shop in the middle of a large town may have different security requirements from one in a rural location.