When assessing how to protect their business from burglary, most company owners choose to install a security system as part of their risk management process to protect against damage, theft and vandalism. However, it is often a stipulation of insurance cover.
Your business activities and the value of what needs to protected will be primary factors when deciding the layers of protection that need to be installed.
One of the first principles to consider when deciding over how to protect your business from intruders is to carry out a security risk assessment. The principle is to identify risks right from the site’s perimeter and boundary and work inwards almost like peeling away layers of an onion. The inner core is protected by multiple layers which must be breached or removed in order to reach the centre.
Conducting a security risk assessment should be the very first task carried out to begin to determine the level of systems or protection you may need. The assessment should take into review associated risk and data gained from:
Security Risk Assessment
An in-depth look at how and where the premises are located. The assessment should cover access routes to and from the premises, lighting sources, type of construction, what doors and windows are installed, is tvhere access from neighbouring property? Are roofs accessible? Is the site in a secluded area is it an open public space? Is there a high crime rate in the area, is there a history of targeted attacks on similar business? Are there physical barriers – fencing, barriers, are these adequate?
Before considering the security of the actual premises, it may be necessary to enhance or address your boundary and perimeter security by physical means.
The assessment should look at the business operation, this should be done in conjunction with the client. The assessment should cover a review of what the business process is. What values of stock, raw materials or assets are within the premises? Are these of high value? What would be the impact of vandalism, sabotage, malicious damage or theft be upon the operation?
You may find that your insurer has already detailed its requirements for security systems. This should not detract from obtaining relevant details about the site. History of theft, stock loss, break-ins, damage etc must be reviewed and recorded. This information impacts the solutions that can be provided. System Grades may be specified, and any requirements for system monitoring and response. The installer will need to know about these stipulations.
The installer surveyor/ risk assessor should now begin to apply technical knowledge and design solutions to meet the level of associated risk to the premises, considering the information gained from the assessment so far. They will use their industry knowledge and experience of technical solutions, and make sure that they meet the required industry standards, under the guidance of accredited bodies such as SSAIB, or NSI. The assessor /surveyor should be able to determine the Grade of System that would be required, this is based upon the information contained within the assessment.
There are 4 grades to consider, predominantly commercial sites fall into either grade 2 or grade 3 risk. Security Grading of Systems is based upon the following factors:
Grade 1 – Low risk
Intruders are expected to have little knowledge of the alarm system and may be restricted to a limited range of easily available tools.
Grade 2 – Low to medium risk
Intruders are expected to have a little more knowledge of the alarm system and use a general range of tools and some specialist equipment.
Grade 3 – Medium to high risk
Intruders are expected to be conversant with the alarm system and have a comprehensive range of tools and portable electronic equipment.
Grade 4 – High risk
To be used when security takes precedence over all other factors. Intruders are expected to have the resources to plan an intrusion in detail and have a full range of equipment, including the means to substitute vial components in the alarm system.
Considerations also need to make as to the grade of Signalling or monitoring solutions (these grades are different to system grades and would be determined by outcomes of the assessment.
Type of response
The grade of the system is also determined by the type of response that needs to be triggered if the intruder alarm is activated.
Bell Only: This means that only the sounder will activate as a means of deterrent. As this only rouses a response from people who might hear the alarm locally (and possibly ignore it) bell only intruder alarms are not usually installed to protect a commercial building.
Keyholder response: If the alarm is activated, a key holder is notified who will determine the next course of action and whether to alert a police response.
Police response: A Police response is only available on professionally monitored alarm systems, installed and maintained by an SSAIB accredited electronic security systems company to EN 50131 standards.
When an intruder alarm that is configured to trigger a police response, it is firstly connected to an alarm receiving centre (ARC). The ARC monitors the alarm system, and, in the event of alarm activation, it will analyse the signals sent from the activated alarm and, if the required criteria are met, the police will be notified along with the keyholder.
A Unique Reference Number (URN) is required for all police response alarms. This unique number is a police identifier specific to the property and will be applied for by the company that installs your system. There is a cost to apply for the URN.
Whilst it is best practice to ensure your security system is regularly maintained to avoid system faults and manage false alarm triggers, intruder alarm systems on police response are required to have an annual maintenance contract, which includes 2 system inspections per year. This will help to ensure your system response is not downgraded.
Although there are several intruder alarm system manufacturers to choose from, you will probably have realised that as a business owner you don’t really get to pick the type of system. The choice of system is defined by the outcome of the intruder and building risk assessment and the stipulations of your insurance company cover.
The installer will use approved, tried and tested equipment, based upon their preference of system manufacturer. The equipment will meet the criteria as per the standards, but will be the equipment of each company’s choice. The installer would propose the best technical solution, to meet the design criteria determined by the assessment, and to be the most cost-effective solution to meet any budgetary requirements.
The written design specification will detail in depth all the system component parts, where these will be fitted, what their purpose is for, what their range or detection area is. The written specification is the installers technical solution based upon all the findings and outcomes of the security risk assessment. This is then submitted for review by the client and possibly for review by the insurer.
If you have recently moved into a new building that already has an intruder alarm system installed, or it has been some time since your last risk review we recommend that you carry out a security risk assessment to ensure this system is fit for your purposes.
Tecserv UK has distributor agreements with most major manufacturers of intruder alarms systems and will be able to help you decide how best to protect your people, protect and processes.
For a no-obligation discussion about your commercial business security alarm options please complete the enquiry form below.
Mick has over 30 years experience working within the Fire and Security industry. Starting as an installation engineer and quickly progressing into both operational and sales management roles.