How to keep your business premises safe during holiday season
With the holiday season comes the increased threat of theft and / or damage to businesses as opportunist criminals take advantage of empty premises. This guide has some key tips to help reduce the risk of theft or vandalism during the holiday season.
Have a locking up checklist
In addition to your safety and security policy, make a locking up check-list of all steps to be taken when the last members of staff leave the premises. It’s particularly important during holiday season when you may have temporary staff of staff unused to locking up taking over these responsibilities. Make a note of all safes, doors and gates on the premises which need to be locked and ensure the list is kept somewhere secure. Train at least two senior members of staff in how to lock up with physical walk-throughs and ensure they know how to set and deactivate alarms. Make sure your keys are not left on the premises and that only designated staff have access. In case of emergency, make sure there’s a list of keyholders who can be contacted. For more information about this see our blog on assigning keyholders.
Carry out a pre-holiday check
Identify areas that may be vulnerable to forced entry and have them made more secure.
Make sure any service doors are locked and secure when not in use.
If you have an alarm system or CCTV, now is a good time to get them checked to ensure they are fully operational. Your CCTV should provide facial recognition as well as good quality images and cover any vulnerable areas. Install CCTV cameras near all entrances/exits and near places of value such as offices, safes etc. 24-hour digital CCTV is also highly recommended.
If you don’t have CCTV, it may be worth considering installing them. CCTV cameras have a powerful deterrent effect on would-be criminals, particularly opportunists, and they also help to keep your staff safe as well as your physical assets and premises as well as being a factor in the cost of your insurance in some instances. You can choose from standard CCTV or stand alone systems which are suitable even for remote areas.
Find out more about CCTV services for your business here.
If you do install CCTV cameras, you will have to do the following to comply with data protection law: For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/can-i-use-cctv-at-my-commercial-premises
Talk to your neighbours
To further prevent theft or criminal damage on empty premises if you are planning on a period when the office is empty, you could discreetly inform any neighbouring businesses or residents that you are closed, so if they see anyone on the premises they may report it, and make sure that a member of staff regularly visits the premises to check for anything out of order.
According to police statistics, a well-maintained exterior free of rubbish and graffiti will reduce the likelihood of your business being targeted by criminals. So try to remove any graffiti. If any appears on a nearby wall or structure, call the local council who will send their specialist team. Make sure that wheelie bins are stored away as these can be climbed on to gain access to the building, especially via the first floor. Prune any overgrown bushes or nearby trees, as they can provide cover for anyone trying to hide from view.
Switch the (outdoor) lights on!
Make sure there is sufficient lighting around the premises, especially loading areas. Motion activated lighting can help to make any neighbours aware of unusual activity at night, whilst not drawing attention to the fact that your lights are on all night or drawing attention to your premises in very rural locations.
Protect valuable items and assets
Make sure all valuables are safely stored away and are out of the sight of thieves and are securely locked away. Consider moving high-value goods away from display windows overnight. You should also make sure that you have sufficient insurance cover, so that if there is a theft or damage caused in your business then you will be insured for the amount required to replace the items stolen/damaged. Try not to keep cash on the premises and always use a bolted-down safe with a time lock and anti-tamper sensors that trigger an alarm. Make sure stockrooms are locked and, where possible, keep stock out of sight. Smoke-generating devices that activate on unauthorised entry can create a smokescreen and foil burglary. They’re designed not to damage stock.
Protect data and digital assets
Identity theft is also a threat, to help prevent this you should make sure that all the workers personal data is safely stored and is not publicly accessible. Any personal documents that are no longer in use should be shredded to avoid identity theft.
Your digital assets are just as much at risk as your physical ones. That’s why you need to protect them, especially if you’re a small business with everything on a laptop. For more advice on how to back up your electronic data and stay safe from online fraud, visit the Metropolitan Police website page with advice on preventing on ecommerce, online and telephone fraud.
Make the premises fire safe
Before you leave for a break, check for fire hazards, such as exposed wires, and any hazardous material and make sure that all fire exits are not blocked and that all fire extinguishers are in working order. Use fireproof boxes for any vital documents and for hard drives with back-ups of essential data and keep copies in a secure location offsite if possible.