Security assessments are ‘the business’

In this blog, PCSO Anna Smith talks through some of the typical tasks she completes in her role as a specialist business crime advisor.

If you want a bespoke, free assessment for your business like Anna describes, you can book one by emailing BusinessCrime@southyorks.pnn.police.uk

From vet surgeries and schools to industrial units and shops – these are the kind of premises I deal with on a daily basis. Whether I’m advising on security following a break in, or carrying out a free security assessment, my role is to advise those who work on business premises, to help prevent them from becoming a victim of crime.

I advise people on how best to secure their business and their assets such as vehicles, as well as what changes they can make and precautions they can take in order to protect themselves, their premises, property and therefore their income.

I’ll talk you through some typical duties as a business crime advisor in Sheffield…

Generally, businesses are referred to me and to the other advisors at SYP if they have reported an incident to us, such as burglary, theft, cybercrime or criminal damage. I’ll pick up referrals at the start of a shift, and arrange to go and see a representative at the business to offer advice if necessary.

Sometimes, businesses request a security assessment as a preventative measure themselves – they’re free, can be requested by small and medium businesses, and don’t take us long to carry out. The assessment involves a thorough inspection of the security of a business – from the fencing, lighting and barriers to the location of goods in a shop, (if it’s a retail outlet of course).

Once complete, I write a report and include recommendations to the business on how they can improve security - the business doesn’t have to take me up on the advice - they can choose what they do with it and whether to make the improvements. It will all depend on their budget and what they want out of the assessment, though the recommendations don’t always cost money.

Last week I visited a primary school in Sheffield, which had been broken into a couple of times. I inspected the building, pointing out some aspects, which could be changed to improve security. I also took some SmartWater along to tell them about - it can be really useful in helping police to return stolen property to its rightful owner if  recovered.

Some of the advice I offered the school included immediately removing an outdoor railing which had helped burglars gain access to the building, fitting additional lighting and adding a ‘shield’ to a door to stop people from forcing entry. Making these changes doesn’t take much time, but can be of huge benefit in the long run.

Next up I visited a Sheffield vet surgery, which had been the victim of ongoing criminal damage. I carried out a security survey for the business and made some recommendations, mainly for the external security of the building.

It’s important to have effective security, and this relies on a mix of both physical and electronic barriers, which can delay intruders from getting into a building. The longer it takes them and the more effort it takes, the more likely they are to be deterred. My advice to the vet surgery included installing perimeter lighting and considering some amendments to their doors, along with using anti-climb paint. These measures (and others I recommended) should reduce the risk of crime against the business.

Over at a cash and carry in Sheffield, I went to check out the physical security of the building after a break-in. The premises are in a good state of repair and are robust but there are still some improvements that could be made.

My advice to the firm included installing a reception area for customers to ensure anyone on the premises is supervised, and to install and create more barriers in front of their warehouse. New fencing was also a recommendation, along with making sure they keep the exterior of the building tidy, so potential burglars don’t have make-shift items to help them gain access.

The security visits are not the only aspects of my job, but make up a large part of it. Quite often we can point out things that the businesses had never thought of or noticed. I find my role really rewarding in that I’m helping honest, decent, hardworking people to maintain their livelihoods.

Some of the people I visit have started their business from scratch and depend on the income from it in order to cover the cost of living. Without their business or if their business is disrupted in some way, they may struggle to make ends meet.

I would encourage businesses to sign up for a free security assessment if they haven’t already had one. We are more than happy to help. All a business needs to do is email us on BusinessCrime@southyorks.pnn.police.uk – we want as many businesses as possible to take advantage of this to help bring business crime down.