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Does a slowdown in construction mean an increase in security threats to sites?

Does a slowdown in construction mean an increase in security threats to sites?
Does a slowdown in construction mean an increase in security threats to sites?

The Christmas construction shutdown provided a much-welcomed break from the anxiety and uncertainty faced by the construction industry over the last year. Sadly, when those based in construction find themselves on the wrong side of the holiday high this January, they are likely to see a bleak immediate future, as the ongoing issues from 2022 negatively impact the outlook for year ahead.

As new projects are delayed and existing projects are slowed down or scaled back, this could inevitably lead to an increase in demand for security-related services as sites remain vacant and therefore vulnerable to both antisocial behaviour and criminal activity.

The state of the construction industry in 2023

So what exactly is going on in the industry this year? We need only look at the major headlines from 2022 to envisage that construction output is set to weaken in 2023. This is mainly due to four main causes which, when combined, create a cocktail of negative effects that are set to stifle the construction industry for the foreseeable future.

  1. Supply chain problems – We reported on supply chain issues in the construction industry back in 2021 and the problem hasn’t improved much since. Supply chain disruptions from the worldwide Covid pandemic have had a direct impact on construction costs, making it difficult for contractors to stay within budget. Material cost escalations have already pushed countless projects well over budget.
  2. Cost inflation – The energy crisis, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Covid pandemic had a knock-on effect on the cost of materials. This was a major issue in 2022 (especially for materials that require a high energy output to produce). According to, the cost of aggregates rose by 53%, insulating materials by 32% and pre-cast products by 23%. Construction material inflation for all work reached 15.5% by September 2022.
  3. Skilled worker shortages – Glenigan, a provider of construction project sales leads, market analysis, forecasting, and company intelligence, reported “increased difficulties in recruiting and retaining skilled workers” with 49,000 unfilled positions — 96% more than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The construction industry continues to struggle from a lack of skilled workers.
  4. A looming economic recession – Experts are very much resigned to the fact that the UK is entering a recession – the Bank of England has warned that the UK faces its longest recession since records began. The construction industry is usually the first casualty of a recession as an investment in infrastructure and development slows and confidence in the economy ebbs. Professor Noble Francis, CPA Economics Director, said: It is worth keeping in mind that activity in the industry currently remains at a historically high level, but it will not be immune to the effects of falling real wages and spending at the same time as the cost of construction continues to rise at double-digit rates (view source).

What does this mean for the construction industry: it can only spell a slowdown in output from 2022 to 2023. A drop in the number of projects started in 2022 continues into 2023. According to the Construction Products Association, construction output is forecast to fall by 3.9% in 2023 following a rise of 2.0% in 2022. This is said to be the steepest decline in activity since 2020 (as a result of the pandemic).

Are construction sites vulnerable?

The slowdown in construction threatens to curtail projects that have already started, meaning vacant construction sites are more vulnerable than ever. Glenigan also reported a 50% increase in the time taken for a project to move from planning approval to start on site – meaning the very real possibility of sites being left empty for sustained periods.

Construction sites often contain highly lucrative materials and equipment which could become targets for theft, vandalism, or malicious destruction. Additionally, these construction sites may be located in remote areas with limited protection from authorities. This could make them especially susceptible to intrusion. In fact, insurer Allianz Cornhill reported that nearly £17.5m’ worth of tools were stolen in London in 2020 (view source) as construction projects came to a halt during the pandemic.

construction site theft

So what can construction companies do to protect sites?

Securing your construction site not only helps protect your valuable assets from the threat of theft and vandalism but also helps to prevent further costly delays and downtime, in addition to the growing costs already being suffered. Construction site security measures include:


To establish which security threats your construction site is potentially susceptible to, it’s advisable to obtain a site risk assessment. Construction site risk assessments identify potential security risks, threats and hazards, assigning responsibility, and assess the correct steps to mitigate or remove those risks. You can find out about risk assessments in construction here. Alternatively, speak to one of our Clearway construction site security specialists today on 0800 085 8695 and we’ll be happy to advise you on the best course of action.

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