Security of premises

What do you want to protect yourself against?

The loss of your property resulting from burglary/theft or damage or both.

What we are talking about is stopping someone from stealing from you or damaging your premises.  

Burglary/Theft: If someone enters your business premises (building or part of a building) as a trespasser and steals from you they may be committing an offence covered by the Theft Act 1968 section 9(1)(b). 

Damage:  There are quite a few interpretations of law in relation to criminal damage. This section covers what happens when a person, without lawful excuse, destroys or damages any property, belonging to someone else, and intended to destroy or damage the property. It also includes a person being reckless so that the property would be destroyed or damaged. All of which is covered by the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

Note that shoplifting is covered within a different category

This category provides some information that you can consider to assist with the security of your staff, you and your business premises.

What can you do to reduce the likelihood of burglary/theft happening?

Burglary/Theft: Most thieves choose premises with no obvious signs of security or premises where they feel they won’t be seen.  If the thief succeeds, this often acts as motivation to try again.  So you could become a repeat victim!

Put security in place to deter crime in the first place – but definitely implement changes should you be unfortunate to become a victim in order to deter the criminal that returns by showing you have made changes.

Remember – advertise your security e.g. use of signs so that the criminals are aware that there is an increased likelihood of being caught or failing in their attempts. 

Consider the use of CCTV, alarms, security lighting, perimeter fencing and personal identification badges. These are all security measures that reduce the risk of your premises being targeted by criminals.

How much you invest in your security should be proportionate to the level of risk your business faces.

You may have heard of the abbreviation SMART:

SMART explained
S = Specific objectives/actions should always have a specific outcome
M = Measureable outcomes must be able to be measured against an initial benchmark
A = Appropriate objectives/actions should take into account the timescales, finance and resources available to undertake the project
R = Realistic an objective/action should not set idealistic targets that are unworkable
T = Timely all objectives/actions should be accompanied by a deadline

Factors you should consider when getting SMART:

  • Where your business is located
  • The age of building
  • The type of your business
  • The surrounding area (can you join exisitng schemes or combine efforts with neighbouring businesses)
  • What you are protecting
  • Vulnerability of product (inside/outside)
  • Vulnerability of people and what they know e.g. codes to safes, entry points, etc.


  • Effective management and the appropriate positioning of cameras and recording equipment is vital for efficient and beneficial CCTV systems.
  • If you have or are going to install CCTV – you should be the first to test your system, not the criminal.
  • There is a term used when talking about CCTV – operational requirements.  The three main operational requirements are:
    • The anticipation of offences –  anticipate offences that are about to happen and take action to prevent them.  This requires the system to be monitored.  Seek professional advice if you believe you need a monitored system.
    • The prevention of crime – a system installed with a view to deter i.e. a preventative measure.   Cameras must be visible and obvious to achieve the deterrent effect. Don’t forget the use of signs at every possible point to advertise the use of the system.
    • The detection of offenders – make sure your system produces ‘fit for purpose’ images i.e. images that are clear and of a good size, so that any person viewing the images can see and potentially identify the person captured on film.


  • Camera(s) should be directed towards main doorways/entrances for clear head and shoulders images of everybody entering and leaving the premises.
  • Ensure that there is enough light (at all times) for the camera to produce a useable image.  The recorded image must be clear, so it is possible to identify the individual should it be required. 
  • Display the appropriate signs to warn that CCTV recording equipment is in use.  This is a legal requirement, but acts as a deterent  and aids crime prevention. 
  • Seek professional advice before parting with any money for a system.  

Remember – CCTV in isolation is not a solution to preventing crime, but a part of the package you should implement.


  • Alarms should be professionally fitted and regularly maintained.
  • There are, in the main, two types of alarm system.
    • Audible only.
    • Remote signalling i.e.which should be monitored by a security company or the police.

Remember – to discuss with the installation company how the system itself can be protected from attack i.e. the routing of wires so they are not accessible to be disconnected or cut.

Questions you might like to ask yourself regarding the choosing of an alarm installation company:

  • Have I checked the credentials of the company – am I confident to release secure information to them?
  • Do I need an alarm system to satisfy the business insurance requirements?
  • Have I obtained three quotes to choose from and do they have details of maintenance and monitoring costs?
  • Do the quotes offered meet the ‘BS’ standards required? (see web links opposite for more information).
  • Will the system operator provide 24-hour coverage?
  • Is the company I am going to choose subject to an independent inspection process and, if so, which one?
  • Have I spoken with friends or business colleagues that have purchased systems and learnt from them?
  • Have I fully considered any contract before signing?

Security Lighting

  • Appropriate lighting can be a deterrent but it should not be your only deterrent as thefts can often take place in the day time.
  • Consider infrared technology for night time use, especially if you have CCTV systems in operation during the hours of darkness.
  • Lights should cover points of access into the business building to highlight your other security measures e.g. bars on windows and deter criminal activity.  Don’t forget the safety of your staff as they come and go at different hours of the day. 

Perimeter security

  • This is clearly dependent on the size of your business and whether you are part of a complex or have grounds of size that require particular attention. 
  • Whatever the size of your business the basics apply – ensure that all access points are considered for their robustness and will prevent the access of unwanted persons.
  • The services of a professional security advisor can be sought if you require it and they will advise on up to-date technology and appropriate access sytems to meet your needs.  They will consider things you may  perhaps not have thought about, such as external bollards to prevent ‘ram raids’.
  • Part of your perimeter security plan might be in the restriction you require to allowing access to the premises by all visitors – consider identification badges/passes for staff, a checking system, automated access control, etc.

Remember – treat the purchase of any system in the way you would approach the purchase of a CCTV system (as above) and don’t forget to be SMART.

Building security

To keep thieves out it is important to conduct an inspection of your building(s).  Think like a thief – can I get in, is that a weak point? (or could it be?), are staff vigilant? are doors left open to what otherwise would be a secure area e.g. delivery bays, etc.

  • Windows – are they secure, should I fit blinds to stop unwanted ‘eyes’ seeing in, can they be forced open, is there a need to fit additional security e.g. grilles or shutters, is there a procedure in place to close windows if opened during hot weather – would air conditioning be better than having windows opened?
  • Doors – ensure that all doors have appropriate locks that meet insurance requirements as a minimum.  External doors, and their frames, should be strong enough to withstand attack.  Strength of internal doors and their locks should also be considered to prevent criminals moving easily within the premises should they get in.
  • Keys – restrict the volume of keys produced for each access point and only issue to specified appointed staff.  Master sets should be kept under appropriate and secure arrangements.  Consider joining our police keyholder scheme.  

Reception areas

Your reception area is usually the first point of contact, so why not consider it as your first point of defence?

  • Will your expectations of a warm welcome for and the interest shown to visitors by staff also deter would be criminals?  Think courteous, professional and minimum consistent standards.
  • Have you considered a register (times in and out, etc) for all visitors with a courteous identity check followed by the issue of a visitor's badge?  Are all the vehicles outside your premises accounted for?


  • If you are a business open to the public then you will have a high level of dependency on your staff.  Consider appropriate training and briefing sessions to maintain standards and levels of service. 

Remember – if you don’t provide the knowledge to allow people to do their jobs, your expectations are unlikely to be met.


Damage to your premises can occur at any time and it may of course be accidental and caused by staff or visitors. 

  • If criminal damage does occur have you any systems in place to capture evidence?  See CCTV section above.

Your location and boundaries may make it difficult to completely prevent damage occurring, so the suggested aim is to deter criminals as best you can by advertising the presence of CCTV, which may well lead to the identification of offenders.  Partnering with other businesses in the area is of value and, depending on numbers, worth considering.  If may be possible to increase buying power with the aim of improving security e.g. security patrols, CCTV at common points of entry to an estate, etc.

  • Damage may occur as a precursor to theft.  Have you considered and can you implement any precautionary measures that may deter criminals from attempting the crime in the first place?  Improved practise and implementation of beneficial processes will contribute to detering crime. 

Remember - Criminals look for loopholes or gaps in security – do you have any, can your security be breached?

Where can you get more help and advice?

Association of Business Crime Partnerships (ABCP)

Membership of ABCP is open to all business crime reduction partnerships that have achieved the Safer Business Award, or are actively working towards it. The Safer Business Award is the nationally recognised standard for BCRPs, which shows that they are operating lawfully in accordance with the Data Protection Act and with other good practice developed by ABCP. These have been designed to promote effective partnership work.  ABCP provides a national focus for business crime reduction partnerships. 

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The FSB is non-profit making and non-party political.  Their mission statement includes promoting and protecting the interests of the self employed and small business owners within the UK.

Two of the principal objectives of the FSB  are to:

  • protect members' businesses
  • identify the continuously changing needs of members

There are three branches in the Cornwall Region and ten branches in the Devon region of FSB:

Select the specific link for either Devon or Cornwall:

Health and Safety Executive (H&SE)

Has information and guidance regarding:

  • Preventing workplace harassment and violence
  • Lone workers
  • Managing telephone verbal abuse

The British Retail Consortium (BRC)

The BRC’s mission is to make a positive difference by advancing vibrant and consumer focused retail. There aim is to achieve this by standing for what is important to the industry and working in partnership with their members to shape debates and influence outcomes.


Crime Reduction Officer
Devon & Cornwall Police, Crime Reduction Dept
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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