Security is a factor in everyone’s lives these days, even if people don’t realise or think about it. Planters outside important buildings often aren’t simple containers for flower arrangements, they’re reinforced concrete barriers to stop ram raids and suicide bombs, and CCTV surrounds us everywhere, inside and out. With bodycams and dashcams, number plate and facial recognition software, advancing technology is on the side of law enforcement, not the law breakers. We might not like the idea of Big Brother, but it’s a fact of life now as we battle the threat from terrorism as well as more everyday crime.
Six years ago, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) estimated there were nearly 6m closed-circuit television cameras in the country, including 750,000 in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and care homes. Given the progress of technology since 2013, and our increasing paranoia concerning terrorism, this number could now be double or even more.
Understandably this prevalence has also generated significant debate about balancing the use of surveillance with individuals’ right to privacy, even when in public. Across the UK and EU, since last May there are now even more stringent Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which include cover for use of CCTV but just how good are organisations at complying with them?
As a prime example, those responsible for managing CCTV and data protection in their organisation need to check their signage is adequate to warn people they’re being watched and that where the cameras point is appropriate. Data and images need managing and I’ve seen so many cases where this isn’t being done properly and demonstrates a flagrant breach of the Regulations, most probably unintentional, but it matters not. These organisations are leaving themselves open to heavy fines if they’re reported.
Advancing technology, whether it’s computer software, protective clothing or drones, may bring a lot of benefits for those who work in security but they are often accompanied by new regulations and often present a new set of problems to overcome. We live in a bureaucratic world and paperwork has to be dealt with, much as we may dislike it… and when lawbreakers take the new technology and use it against Society, for example the recent airport drones debacle, it seems a good illustration of the old adage two steps forward and one step back for those of us in the security business.
Latest technology has also had a major impact on the use of the internet, and cybersecurity is the current big challenge for those who need to monitor activity in cyberspace and combat its impact and use for terrorist, criminal or undesirable social practices, whether state sponsored or from small groups or individuals. It is specialist, fastmoving, difficult and demanding and like a lot of today’s security sectors, it requires expert professionals and specialist knowledge to be operated successfully.
That is the world we, as security experts, have to work in. It’s no longer about simply having a few guards patrolling a premises or watching over people; every job is different. The clients are individual; their problems are diverse and the threat level fluid; the level of difficulty and complexity will differ in each case; the risks are different and budget also plays its part as does the type and experience of security staff needed to work on each job. Therefore, the solutions need to take all this into account. No one size fits all these days because ‘security’ is now a wide-ranging industry. In my opinion, every client and contract is unique and requires a bespoke solution, bringing in specialists and specialist equipment when and where necessary.
My company specialises in property security – generally, securing premises rather than protecting individual people, although there is obviously some crossover between the two – and we are a good example of utilising the latest technology to its greatest advantage, or adapting it for specific needs, but at the same time, often the old fashioned guard patrol, with or without dogs, is the perfect solution to a problem. It also demonstrates perfectly how no two jobs are the same, as no two buildings, or locations or situations are the same. I believe a ‘bespoke security solution’ is what clients look to us for and should be expected from the industry.
Most of us in the security business deal with property security in one way, shape or form, directly or indirectly… whether it’s a guarding service or supply of security products, and harnessing the use of the latest technology for the benefit of our clients is where we are at today and allows us to offer what is needed – this bespoke solution that is both efficient and cost effective.
The best security solution should cover the key objectives: provide a deterrent; prevent or make the threatened illegal activity difficult; if it does happen, provide the means or evidence to help catch and prosecute the perpetrators and finally, provide reassurance to the client or public that they and their property are being kept as safe as possible.
Having a 24hr guarding service isn’t always practical or affordable, or necessary in some situations, although it does provide a very visible reassuring and deterrent factor. However, CCTV comes into its own when the monitoring of any site is required, especially with warning signage it is in operation, and images are observed and acted upon as soon as any suspicious activity is noticed. Therefore, relaying images to an ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre) maximises the benefit of this security solution enabling a quick response by patrols or law enforcement.
CCTV comes in many varieties with many sophisticated options and can now operate remotely on the most inaccessible of sites… either mobile vehicle mounted or on a stand-alone tower. These towers can run on mains or solar power, have wide coverage and provide the requisite deterrent factor. With connection to sensors around the site in question, they can switch on illumination automatically, sound alarms and even communicate with the trespasser via voice recordings or direct from personnel in a monitoring centre. They are ideal for everything from open car parks, construction sites and sports grounds to agricultural locations, outdoor events and music festivals, protecting the public, valuable equipment, goods or animals. There should now be very few locations that can’t have some sort of security monitoring to deter and detect crime or protect the public.
Security may currently have a major focus on cyber-crime or anti-terrorism but for many, lower level crime and anti-social behaviour still needs to be deterred or dealt with on a daily basis. ASB has been a growing issue for years and the wanton destruction or desecration of property a challenge to combat, everything from illegal raves and graffiti to theft of lead roofing or copper piping. Similarly, squatting is still a threat when property sits apparently unoccupied, despite the change in the law in 2012 to make residential squatting illegal. Property guardians might be a solution to prevent this but for shorter term security, properly fitted steel screens and doors are perfect. With the advent of keyless steel doors, another advance in security technology, the nuisance of being a keyholder and on-call 24/7 becomes redundant. These doors are secure and can allow one off entry for authorised personnel with no worries for the property owner or manager about lost or missing keys or being called out in the middle of the night simply to let someone in. They can be used in any building to control access to certain areas, not necessarily empty buildings, and are a boon to facilities or security managers.
However, fly-tipping is now the major problem for many of our clients, large and small. Unpleasant, noisome, even dangerous on occasion and a nightmare to deal with. According to DEFRA in 2017/18 local authorities in England dealt with just under 1 million fly-tipping incidents and the cost of clearance was £12.2 million, compared with £9.9 million the previous year. This is just local authority figures and takes no note of the illegal dumping of waste on private property. Fly-tipping is a menace and costly to deal with but in this case, solutions are simple. CCTV might catch the perpetrators and their number plates on camera but prevention is better than cure in this instance. Simple concrete blocks or barricades will often do the trick and prevent the incursion of vans or trucks full of rubbish. Some security solutions are still very simple and old fashioned.
New technology will continue to deliver advances to assist us in keeping people and business safe and our armoury of options will grow exponentially. We simply need to keep abreast of all these advances and utilise them and the experts to offer our clients a bespoke service for whatever their security needs are.
UK Group Commercial Director