How lockdown will impact on the security of property and assets

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Secu­ri­ty experts believe that there will be a like­ly rise in prop­er­ty dam­age dur­ing this fur­ther peri­od of extend­ed lock­down, and it could sig­nal the need for prop­er­ty own­ers and facil­i­ty man­agers to take extra mea­sures to man­age the risks.

Paul Corten, Sales Direc­tor for the VPS Group, warns that the legal require­ment to stay at home, with lim­it­ed, spe­cif­ic excep­tions, could give rise to an ide­al oppor­tu­ni­ty for both organ­ised and oppor­tunis­tic crim­i­nals to exploit the qui­eter streets and com­mer­cial estates.

There’s a rea­son why secu­ri­ty per­son­nel are regard­ed as key work­ers dur­ing lock­down. Essen­tial­ly, they have the poten­tial to reduce demand on polic­ing by sup­port­ing law and order. Pro­tect­ing vacant com­mer­cial, retail or res­i­den­tial premis­es, via manned guard­ing or mon­i­tor­ing through CCTV and inno­v­a­tive solu­tions such as prop­er­ty guardians, could save the police ser­vice, prop­er­ty own­ers and insur­ance com­pa­nies millions.”

We’ve already seen exam­ples of an increase in vacant premis­es being tar­get­ed for ille­gal raves in the last fort­night” Mr Corten con­tin­ues. and only this week an organ­ised met­al theft gang have been pros­e­cut­ed for steal­ing 92km of pow­er lines and cabling – that’s a seri­ous­ly dam­ag­ing run of thefts that dan­ger­ous­ly halt­ed pow­er to over 45,000 homes. But it’s not just steal­ing, van­dal­ism or arson that can sub­stan­tial­ly dam­age vacant prop­er­ties. The rain, freez­ing weath­er and snow at this time of year will also take its toll on build­ings left empty.”

The secu­ri­ty experts VPS, have laid out a 6‑point plan for prop­er­ty own­ers and facil­i­ties man­agers with emp­ty prop­er­ties under their control:

1. Assess the risk

Is the prop­er­ty in a high crime area? Is it par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble, either high­ly vis­i­ble or in a remote or qui­et loca­tion? One prop­er­ty VPS were request­ed to inspect was a large old coun­try man­sion sit­u­at­ed in park­land. Parks are rammed with vis­i­tors at the moment, so on one hand this Geor­gian pile was under the con­stant gaze of thou­sands of vis­i­tors, but on the down­side, it meant that many peo­ple could see it was emp­ty, looked like it might con­tain items of val­ue, such as old fire­places, and could cer­tain­ly attract atten­tion from intrud­ers under the cov­er of dark­ness.” Mr Corten said.

2. Review the security

Once you have car­ried out at the assess­ment, walk the site, check­ing the perime­ter fenc­ing, all the poten­tial entrance points includ­ing doors and win­dows, and, dur­ing the cold weath­er spells, that the util­i­ties are turned off and drained down, or any insur­ance com­pli­ant inter­nal tem­per­a­tures are main­tained. Hir­ing an expert to pro­vide the ini­tial site risk assess­ment will pay div­i­dends and is usu­al­ly free of charge.

3. Imple­ment improve­ments fast

There’s no point in assess­ing and review­ing the risks and then delay­ing plug­ging in the iden­ti­fied
weak­ness­es and gaps in secu­ri­ty. 1200 met­al thefts took place every month last year. 67,000 delib­er­ate
fires were start­ed in Eng­land in the year to June 2020. That’s over 180 a day.

4. Deploy solu­tions from the full range of secu­ri­ty options available

Whether it is a hum­ble let­ter-box seal, bet­ter locks, guards and inspec­tors, or stronger fenc­ing, 247 mon­i­tored alarm or cctv sys­tems and video-ver­i­fied tech­nolo­gies, there’s a solu­tion or a mix of solu­tions that will fit all premis­es and bud­gets. Sim­ple util­i­ty locks, Smart Doors with Blue­tooth entry mech­a­nisms or the inno­v­a­tive solu­tion of pro­tec­tion via occu­pa­tion’ — deploy­ing prop­er­ty guardians to live in a tem­porar­i­ly vacant prop­er­ty, at no cost to the own­er – all options should be con­sid­ered as appropriate.

5. Reg­u­lar inspections

Check premis­es reg­u­lar­ly to see if there has been any dam­age from weath­er or attempt­ed secu­ri­ty breach­es, or use a Covid-secure inspec­tion ser­vice by trained per­son­nel. A burst water pipe left to run for a week can cause thou­sands of pounds of dam­age if unat­tend­ed. Reg­u­lar inspec­tions will alert you to any signs of water ingress, and there are Smart Alarms that incor­po­rate flood detec­tion sen­sors to safe­guard the prop­er­ty in between inspections.

6. Lock­down doesn’t mean you have to leave it for now

When choos­ing a secu­ri­ty provider, select trained oper­a­tional per­son­nel that hold SIA key work­er sta­tus, allow­ing them to con­tin­ue the ever-impor­tant work in sup­port­ing cus­tomers in pro­tect­ing their peo­ple, prop­er­ty and assets. 

We have over the past num­ber of months put extra mea­sures in place to ensure the safe­ty of our col­leagues and our cus­tomers, enabling us to con­tin­ue work­ing dili­gent­ly with our cus­tomers on the deliv­ery of secu­ri­ty and risk mit­i­ga­tion ser­vices across the UK. VPS are here through­out the lock­down to

sup­port busi­ness­es, with safe­ty as our pri­or­i­ty. Our Covid-secure oper­a­tion allows us to car­ry out crit­i­cal work secur­ing assets, so that’s one less thing for our cus­tomers to wor­ry about.” Paul Corten concludes.