Crime potentially threatens all businesses, with criminals finding ever more sophisticated methods. Protecting and insuring premises and their contents is crucial to all businesses.
You could begin by contacting your local police station (on 101 or another non-emergency number) to ask for crime prevention tips. Find out which particular forms of crime you need to watch out for in your area or sector.
Assess your security risks
Carry out a crime risk assessment of your commercial premises (or house if yours is a home-based business). Identify areas most vulnerable to crime. For example, you could have valuable equipment, keep cash or store stock. Knowing where you're most vulnerable enables you to put in place security measures where they're most needed. This should also help you keep your insurance premiums as low as possible.
Pay particular attention to the exterior of your premises. All access areas should be adequately lit at night and secured. Many businesses now use CCTV, but be advised – data-protection regulations apply.
You need to restrict roof access. You can use anti-climb paint, but its application is not permitted below a certain height and (ironically) you must display a sign to warn of its presence. However, this can deter casual criminals.
Practical security measures
Protect doors and windows with strong locks. If necessary, strengthen or replace doors and windows. Consider whether shutters or grilles should be installed, although you might need planning permission from your local council.
Having a modern alarm system fitted by a reputable contractor is a ‘no-brainer'. It should be tested regularly. This, too, is often stipulated by insurance policies.
If you rent, your landlord might agree to contribute toward improving the security of your premises. If you haven't yet moved into new premises, security should be foremost in your mind - something you use when negotiating with a prospective landlord. Speak with other business people operating nearby and find out how crime affects them.
Taking responsibility for security
Decide which staff member(s) will hold keys for your premises and possibly who will be on call if your alarm goes off. Also think about how you will manage visitors, perhaps by making them sign in on arrival. Often shops put up security mirrors to cover blind spots. You might also restrict access to certain areas within your premises, and put up 'Staff Only' signs. Many cash-handling businesses provide panic buttons or secure areas for staff.
Minimise risks to valuable items that are easily stolen by locking them away when not in use. Don't park vehicles onsite at night. Make sure vehicles are alarmed and don't leave valuables inside – and most definitely not on view.
Undertake regular checks to make sure that your security measures remain effective. Do this at least once a year.