The Office for National Statistics recently released figures relating to annual crime levels in England and Wales up to June 2018. While the figures showed no change in the total levels of crime, there was variation in different crime types, including an 8% increase in theft levels. This general trend seems to be borne out in many reports around that time period; for example, Cambridge struggled with a significant increase in the amount of shoplifting theft. There were 1,200 shoplifting offences recorded by police across the city in the 12 months to September 2017: an increase of 27% from the 943 crimes recorded the previous year. It was also speculated that businesses might not be reporting some thefts as they believed police would not have the resources to follow them up – meaning the actual figure could be higher. In Greater Manchester, it’s been suggested that businesses have been falling victim to crime once every 15 minutes; an analysis of police-recorded crimes shows that in 2017/18 there were 33,908 crimes committed against businesses including shoplifting, burglary, robbery, theft by employees, people leaving without payment and theft from automatic machines or meters. The highest rate of business crime over that time period was in Cleveland, where there were 1,920 crimes for every 100,000 people. Across England and Wales, there were 619,074 crimes against businesses in 2017/18 in total, working out as 1,087 for every 100,000 people. Clearly it’s essential that businesses are doing everything possible to reverse this trend – and there are many steps you can take to ensure your business is reducing its risk of being targeted.
  • Improve physical security
It starts with making your premises less attractive to criminals where possible.  It might be as simple as improving physical barriers and doing things like upgrading locks on doors, windows and shutters – or even replacing them if they’re not in a good condition. Secure outbuildings and install fencing systems to reduce access to your site.
  • Increase the chances of thieves being seen
If a potential thief thinks they might be seen, they are less likely to commit the crime.  You can improve visibility by installing lighting and removing anything like dense vegetation that could offer thieves somewhere to easily observe your premises from. And of course talk to employees about being vigilant and how to react if they see anything that concerns them. If you need more extensive surveillance, consider installing a closed circuit television (CCTV) system: there are many versions available suited to even the smallest workplaces. It’s an effective deterrent and also increases the chances of someone being caught if they did manage to commit any kind of crime at your premises. Use clear signage to alert people that you have it installed and get it serviced regularly so it continues to operate effectively.
  • Improve your access control
Look at how easy it is for a criminal to access your premises.  There are many options available to manage and restrict access depending on the nature of your business and level of risk. Use door combination locks. Consider using a security pass system for clear identification of employees and visitors. You might even want to review whether more sophisticated methods of access control could be beneficial. Card systems, intercoms and even finger print recognition systems can all be installed to ensure access to authorised personnel only. Some systems will also provide you with information about individual movements in case it transpires you have an issue with theft by employees.
  • Install a burglar alarm
Don’t leave premises unprotected outside of opening hours. There are many burglar alarm systems on the market, from a basic system that simply sounds an external alarm to ones which are monitored by approved alarm receiving centres who’ll alert you immediately if the alarm is activated. Many can be integrated with other types of fire and security systems. And, as with all such equipment, remember to keep on top of its maintenance. If you are unsure of the best approach to increasing security at your workplace, please do get in contact with us for further advice.