How effective management can keep your property safe

Buildings of all types and in all sectors can be victims of crime, whether they are in use or empty, and increasingly many owners of properties are turning to trusted security companies for advice on how best to keep their buildings safe.

This article will explore some of the threats that are faced and how they can be prevented through comprehensive property management.

Threats to businesses

Latest government statistics show that crime remains a huge threat to businesses operating in the UK. Incredibly, crimes that affected businesses account for as much as 20% of all the total crime reported in the UK. However businesses are not alone in their susceptibility to crime and any type of property can fall victim to some of the following types of crime.

Theft

Theft accounts for the highest proportion of crime against properties in the UK - over three quarters of all the crimes reported each year. In the industrial sector, the theft of high value items such as copper, precious metals and other high value materials has become a widespread problem. Copper theft is a good example of a threat that properties face with criminal gangs attempting to gain access to a building, strip it of copper or other high value metals and sell those items on for their own personal profit.

The scale of the problem has been so bad in recent years that the Chief Superintendent of the British Transport Police, Eamonn Carroll said it was "the next biggest priority after the terrorist threat".

Copper theft has been instrumental in signal failures that affect British Rail services causing power cuts and subsequent delays, affecting both the reputation of British Rail and driving up the price for it's customers.

In the retail world the prevention of theft is certainly a top priority, with recent crime surveys by the British Retail Consortium revealing costs of around £511 million to businesses as a direct result of shoplifting. Retail units which fail to defend themselves against shoplifting and other forms of theft can see themselves struggle to keep up with competitors who treat loss prevention as a priority.

Theft is also commonplace in building and civil engineering sites where plant is often broken down and sold for parts to criminal gangs, funding other serious crimes including terrorism. Some estimates even put the cost of plant theft in the UK between at as much as £1.5m a week. While many operators and owners of plant machinery remain unconcerned about the risk of theft due to insurance they may have in place, many insurance companies are now requiring that serious protection is put in place for both preventing theft and tracking it down once stolen.

It's not only businesses that are the victim of theft and the latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show that there were an estimated 6.8 million incidents of crime against households in 2015.

Vandalism

The vandalism of businesses and property causes millions of pounds of damage every year in the UK. From repairing equipment and vehicles to replacing broken fixtures and fittings or removing graffiti, vandalism can cause serious problems.

Often the damage that is caused by vandals can result in loss of earnings, for example when a damaged piece of machinery or a vandalised vehicle has to be repaired before it can be put to work again.

In retail settings vandalism is fairly common, especially in the case of shopping centres where there might be public toilets, as these are routine targets for vandals. In this type of scenario money is spent on repairing damages rather than in more positive ways such as improving facilities for the general public.

Trespassing

Synonymous with vandalism, trespassing often leads to other crimes and can endanger not only business and industry but also the lives of the criminals involved.

Trespassing has seen a rise in recent years with the increase in popularity of so-called 'Urban Exploration', a hobby which involves gaining illegal access to sites which may be left vacant, sometimes for filming purposes, photography or simply to have a look around.

Often many of these sites are in poor states of repair which means that not only are trespassers at risk of damaging their surroundings, but they could also be endangering their lives. Many vacant buildings have crumbling walls, rotten floorboards or other health hazards such as asbestos or dangerous chemicals.

Quarries (both used and disused) are another popular target for trespassers, especially among teenagers. Young people will often explore these sites with mountain bikes and trial bikes for fun but are unaware of the hidden dangers quarries can pose such as loose rocks, landslides and boulders.

Railways are another popular target for trespassers, especially for young people during the school holidays with police called out to thousands of incidents every year where people have accessed unauthorised areas of railway causing petty damage, but also risking their lives. In 2014 there were 332 deaths on British railways, the highest number for years.

Riots

The threat of riots is something that unfortunately is all too real as was highlighted by the London riots in 2011 where large scales acts of criminal damage, theft and burglary took place.

Similarly businesses can also fall victim to the risk of protest. Although the majority of protests tend to be peaceful, some can have a violent edge and often high profile sites can become targets. If your property has ties to animal testing, foreign policy, banking or other sensitive issues then your building could be at risk from violent protest.

Squatting

When it comes to vacant properties, it is important that buildings are properly managed and monitored regularly, so as to avoid the chances of a building being squatted in. Although squatting in residential buildings is illegal, squatting in non-residential buildings is not. However, commonly squatters will have to resort to criminal damage to gain entry to a building. Once a building has been squatted in it can be difficult to remove squatters quickly, which can cause problems, for example if your vacant building is due to be put on the market. So proactive prevention of squatting before it happens is very important and having dedicated management and risk assessments to identify where squatters might gain access can be vital.

Fly tipping

Another potential problem for unoccupied properties is the risk of fly tipping. Empty buildings can be a perfect place for criminals to unload household waste, construction waste, unwanted household items and even vehicles. These criminals are often looking to avoid the high costs of landfill taxes by finding somewhere unmonitored that they can offload their waste. However, the cost that is incurred to the owners of properties to remove this waste in both time and money can be a nuisance. It can also lead to health hazards for neighbouring properties, with fly-tipped waste likely to attract rats and other pests. It can be prevented though with manned guards acting as a deterrent to would-be fly tippers.

Structural issues

If your property is vacant and you are unable to access it regularly, you may find that important structural issues may be missed. Left unreported, these issues could create serious problems and potentially lower the value of your property. With property management in place, common issues for older buildings such as leaks, mould and structural issues can be identified and dealt with quickly, before they get out of hand.

Night time duties

Night time is when properties are at their most vulnerable. Buildings are often empty and the darkness provides cover for crime to take place. If your building is left empty at night then it is important to monitor any vulnerable areas preventing theft, squatting and vandalism from taking place.

Risk assessments

One of the biggest challenges to overcome when it comes to property management is providing the right type of security to meet the needs of that particular environment. Every property whether commercial, retail, industrial or residential will have a particular set of criteria that needs to be understood and managed accordingly. A cohesive risk assessment plays a key part in this process.

While you might already have an idea of where your property might be vulnerable, without asking specific and detailed questions you might not be able to get the full picture.

You will need to discuss what assets you are protecting, your reasons for doing so, how high the risk is of something happening and which security solutions you will opt for in order to protect it.

Manned guarding and patrolling

It's important to find a balance when deciding which method of security to use when protecting a building. While CCTV monitoring can be valuable, it can't be relied upon as a lone protection. Instead you should seek to implement a combination of both reactive and proactive security methods.

For example, if a criminal breaks into your property with the intention of committing theft or vandalising your assets, then CCTV operators can only monitor their actions and report them to the police or security personnel. Often by the time this happened the criminal may have already escaped.

With a combination of both CCTV and manned guards patrolling your site, you may well be able to prevent and deter a criminal from ever gaining access.

Effective property management can help to protect the value of your property, keep your tenants happy and protect you from serious crime.

Kingdom has extensive experience and in-depth understanding of property management. To discuss Kingdom's property management service please call us on 0845 051 7702 or click here for an immediate quote.