Mike Bluestone, director of security consulting at Corps Security, offers 10 recommendations for SME’s to consider when addressing the protection of people, property and assets.

• Tip 1 – Understand where potential threats could come from

It’s difficult to put measures in place that limit the exposure to risk unless the likely sources of potential threat are identified. There are some locations, organisations and establishments that are at higher risk of attack than others, so be proactive – understand where you sit on the threat scale by looking at whether what you do and where you do it could provoke an attack.

• Tip 2 – Define policies and strategies

Good corporate governance includes well-defined security policies and procedures that minimise the risk of harm to stakeholders. Injury or death caused by a failure to provide a safe and secure environment could lead to prosecution and even charges of corporate manslaughter. Effective staff screening & vetting policies are a must. Get these policies written down and make sure they are understood and acted upon throughout the company.

• Tip 3 – Allocate the necessary budget

Make sure that there is money allocated to security. This is best addressed at the beginning of the financial year and good financial planning will avoid the problem of having to find ‘emergency’ funds.

• Tip 4 – Carry out a comprehensive risk and threat assessment

The only way to accurately gauge the vulnerability of a company is to carry out a comprehensive risk and threat assessment. Undertaking an in-depth analysis of your activities, premises and facilities will allow the most appropriate security solution to be identified. Also, keep aware of what’s happening in the wider world and see whether any events have safety implications for your organisation.

• Tip 5 – Determine who is responsible

Irrespective of the size of an organisation, someone has to take overall responsibility for the security function. This is particularly important in the event of a fire, robbery, explosion or other emergency, as a designated person will need to manage the crisis and make sure that the necessary safety procedures are implemented correctly.

• Tip 6 – Educate internal stakeholders

Once the first five tips have been understood and acted upon, it is then important to educate the entire workforce about the importance of security. Internal or external training will help personnel identify and respond to potential dangers and give them confidence in the organisation’s ability to manage threats appropriately.

• Tip 7 – Be discerning when procuring advice and services

When you seek advice look for professional credentials such as the Chartered Security Professional designation, and or membership of the Security Institute, or Association of Security Consultants. Anyone can call him or herself a security consultant, so ask for references and follow them up. Likewise, when looking to employ an external security service, only use manned guarding companies that are designated as Approved Contractors by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and make sure that their personnel are licensed.

• Tip 8 – Work together

It is surprising how many businesses don’t communicate with their neighbours. Sharing concerns and passing on information can often help prevent unwanted and antisocial activity, so make sure that those in a particular area are aware any incidents that might affect them. This includes liaising with the police and being aware of local crime trends.

• Tip 9 – Integrate resources

Although CCTV and access control are vital security technologies, it requires human intervention to maximise their potential and integrating resources will result in a more effective solution. Remember to look at the bigger picture – all too often companies that suffer a security breach act in a knee-jerk fashion and simply install a system that doesn’t address their underlying security issues. Don’t make this mistake, as it will lead to a fragmented and dysfunctional system that could also cost a lot of money.

• Tip 10 – Use remote monitoring services

Many companies fail to consider the need for remote monitoring in the event that an in house system becomes compromised. Linking a CCTV system to a remote monitoring centre provides a 24/7/365 service that also ensures that the appropriate response is provided in the event of a fire, break in or other event. Not only does this achieve an enhanced level of security, it also saves money.