Whether aiming for data, money, equipment, valuables or stock, businesses are common targets of crime so securing your premises against intrusion can prevent a potentially crippling blow to your business.

Dr Steffan George, development director from the UK’s leading locksmithing trade association the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) shares his security advice to ensure you don’t get caught out by the pitfalls of crime.

Where to start

The first port of call when looking at security is to look at the building from the outside in – something we regularly do with our own homes but can be overlooked in the workplace.

Firstly consider where your building/office is located, where the access points lie, what condition the property is in and note where weaknesses could be improved, for example, the recent scenes of rioting and looting across the UK highlight the importance of good quality, professionally fitted shutters and grilles for retail premises.

Deterrence is one of the simplest tools used to prevent crime; CCTV is a valuable investment for any business. Whilst not apparently directly safeguarding your premises against intrusion, the sight of cameras and the ability to identify culprits is often enough to put off any would-be criminal. An MLA security expert would be able to offer advice on the fitting of such systems. Once you have considered these elements, ensure all fencing, gates, doors and windows are in a good state of repair or install new ones where need be. It is advisable to speak to a qualified security expert who will be able to offer independent advice as to what type of hardware you should be fitting to meet the needs of your business.

Access control

One big consideration for business is how staff, suppliers, clients and visitors can access your building. Whether you use locks, electronic access or a manned reception it is vital a system works for the use of your building otherwise security will become a hindrance to every day operation.

Although it may seem like a basic step, securing your doors and windows with an appropriate lock is essential. However, with hundreds of locks on the market you want to be sure you’re getting suitable protection for your business.

One solution to regulating access is to select locking systems where keys can’t be easily copied. This ensures individuals can’t readily make copies of keys while in their possession for use at a later date. Patented keys carry legal protection, preventing copies being made without proof of ownership, while restricted keys are unlikely to be copied due to their unusual design and unique mechanical features.

Many of these systems can also be master keyed so managers for instance have access to all levels or their individual offices while other staff can only enter certain rooms. Often with such systems if a key is lost or stolen a lock can be reconfigured and a new key issued, saving time and long-term maintenance expense.

Electronic access

In some instances electronic access systems would be the ideal choice – key fobs, coded entry or swipe cards can be given to employees to gain access and prevent unauthorised entry and some can double as identity tags for manned reception desks. These systems are a relatively inexpensive option for businesses with a large number of employees or in a building with a number of businesses within it.

Electronic systems can be hooked up to HR or building management systems to gather data such as what time people arrive and leave the building and advanced systems can even interact with building management systems to turn the lights off at night when the last person leaves. It is also possible to link the security system into the fire alarm system, causing doors to automatically unlock upon the activation of the alarm.

However, no matter how advanced an electronic access system is it is vital to also ask a professional locksmith to install locks to any access doors and windows for out of hours.

Additional tips for boosting business security include considering alarm systems, pooling resources with neighbouring businesses to save money and boost the work area as a whole, reviewing outhouses and fitting bars and grilles to any windows that may pose a security risk. Internally, consider installing safes and secure locked cabinets for valuables such as data and cash.

Seek advice

Of course all businesses are unique and have their own priorities and policies so with so much to consider, security can be a confusing issue. By seeking advice from professional security advisors – preferably from industry recognised trade associations like the MLA – you are assured they are up to date with current regulations including health and safety and emergency exit requirements, are aware of the latest technology, will interpret insurance requirements stated in your policy and will take full responsibility for their actions, making sure they offer the best solution for your needs.

For further information on boosting security or to find an approved MLA licensed locksmith visit www.locksmiths.co.uk