Physical security measures are diverse and varied. They provide the assurance that a property or site is suitably safeguarded against illegal entry, theft and trespass. The correct actions depend on the nature and layout of the premise, such as the size of the perimeter, the number of potential entry points, and areas of greatest risk.
What is physical security?
Physical security refers to the measures and practices put in place to protect physical assets, resources, and people from unauthorised access, theft, damage or harm.
A complete security strategy combines digital surveillance and automated alarms with physical security, which provides a blanket of coverage and fall-back security systems that can pick up any unauthorised activity that has bypassed other defences.
In this article, we run through a series of steps to create a physical security policy and outline some of the many options that may be suitable for your business or property.
Itemising Site Assets and Valuables
Phase one is to ensure you have a comprehensive inventory of all the most valuable items, vehicles, inventory, equipment and tools within the property or stored across the site. This process is important because it helps inform the risk assessment (more on this later).
Physical security provisions should be strategically deployed, so understanding which aspects of the business or premise are more likely to be at risk of theft, vandalism, or intrusion assists with making informed decisions about which physical security options to use and where.
You should collate a database of vehicles, valuable areas such as server rooms, and the location of warehousing, storage sheds or bays that require the toughest physical security protection.
Conducting a Site Risk Assessment
Once you have a complete list of your physical assets and inventory, along with floor plans and site layouts, you can carry out a risk assessment. We recommend working alongside an experienced security team since many property owners overlook risks that may not be immediately apparent to an assessor without a security background.
The risk assessment should be updated as and when required and normally checked at least once every few months to ensure the preventative action taken remains appropriate.
When the evaluation has been completed, you will have oversight of the following:
- The specific risks and vulnerabilities associated with the property – such as wire tampering, squatting, land trespass, thefts, and public liability risks.
- The risks that are most serious – some intrusions might be a nuisance, whereas others could be business critical and need rapid and proactive attention.
- The alternative ways to reduce, manage or remove a risk – there may be some threats which can be eliminated. In contrast, others can be made much less likely, therefore reducing the level of exposure.
Prioritising your security coverage means you can avoid spending more than necessary on safeguards which are not essential or choose how to spend your physical security budget wisely, addressing the most prevalent and impactful risks.
Related reading: What is a commercial property inspection?
Types of Physical Security Measures
The risk assessment is a live record that adjusts as activities, stored items or the use of your site changes, but there may be some obvious steps that will immediately reduce your exposure.
Examples might include removing assets no longer in use, updating access controls, or consolidating storage into one location to ensure you aren’t juggling multiple zones across a larger property, all with an elevated risk score.
Next, we look at some physical security measures you may find effective depending on your specific risks.
1. Locks and Secure Entry Systems
Entry points are the first port of call when determining how easy it would be for an illegal intruder to access your property. Basic physical security, such as window and door locks, is a starting point and should be of sufficient grading to comply with your insurance requirements.
In some instances, we may suggest a keyholding or open/lock-up service to reduce risks to worker safety, where high-value items are more exposed during these times.
Access control solutions take your security a step further and mean that vehicles and individuals are verified before entering. These systems are tailored to your needs but could use:
- Facial recognition and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).
- Digital passes, security key cards or entry codes.
- Automated bollards or electronic entry gates.
Access control systems can be very efficient for properties with one primary entry point or one main entrance to the building, preventing any person or vehicle from entering without pre-approval.
However, it is also important to consider other entry points, such as rear doors, fire doors, roller shutters and windows. Owners of properties that are vacant, temporarily empty or have unused doors can consider steel screens and security doors as an excellent physical security measure.
2. Perimeter Fencing and Access Controls
When you are satisfied that your building or core parts of your site are suitably protected, you can turn your attention to the wider boundaries and perimeters around your business or premise.
There is an equally broad range of options, with perimeter protection particularly vital if your risk assessment uncovers any potential risk of ram raiding, fly-tipping or vehicular theft or illegal encampments if you have a wide area of land which is difficult to control.
Some of the solutions may include:
- Concrete barriers – blocks are configured in any shape or size, stretching across lanes, roads, footpaths and property frontages to prevent any vehicle from gaining access.
- Heras fencing – often installed along with concrete barrier blocks, anti-climb fencing can extend across your perimeter’s full length or width.
- Guarding – Clearway provides mobile, on-site patrol and K9 guarding, with canine patrol teams ideal for high-risk premises that need a visible security presence to reinforce their other safeguards.
3. Lighting, Cameras and Alarm Notices
We may also recommend the use of surveillance cameras, security lights, signs warning intruders of the presence of live CCTV recording and alarm notices to deter criminals or illegal trespassers who have otherwise navigated your security systems or are considering attempting entry.
Our solar-powered CCTV towers are a popular option for short-term or ongoing use and incorporate advanced cameras producing live feeds and audible sirens/automatic warnings. The height profile of a CCTV tower means this can be a powerful visual deterrent. They can also be easily re-positioned around a site to accommodate any shift in security priorities.
4. Security Guard hire or Manned Guarding
Hiring security guards or manned guards is also an important physical security measure.
Security guards play a crucial role in protecting physical assets, facilities and people by providing a visible and active presence on-site. They are trained to deter potential threats, respond to security incidents, and enforce security policies and procedures.
The presence of security guards can act as a strong deterrent to criminals, as they are more likely to think twice before attempting any unlawful activities in the presence of trained security personnel.
Security guards can also perform regular patrols, monitor surveillance systems, and conduct access control to ensure that only authorised individuals have access to specific areas.
In addition to their primary role in prevention and response, security guards can also provide valuable assistance during emergencies, such as guiding people to safety during a fire or helping to manage the situation in the event of a security breach.
Other options include adding signage in prominent places to indicate that your site is heavily protected and not a vulnerable target for opportunist intruders.
For further information about creating a physical security strategy for your site or to discuss any security measures mentioned here, please contact the experts at Clearway on 0800 085 8695.