Businesses are at higher risk of crime than private households, due to the various opportunities they present for criminal activity.
The risk of crime happening on your premises depends on many factors, such as the goods you provide or sell, the local crime rate, whether you stay open late, your staff and how busy your street is. Many of these things are out of your control, but you can take steps to help reduce this risk. Reducing your business’s risk of crime will help protect your profits and make sure that the people who work with you are safe.
If you've already been a victim of crime, taking action now to prevent further incidents is very important.
One of the most effective ways to protect your business against robbery is to remove the target - cash.
Keep as little cash on the premises as possible by regularly transferring it to somewhere more secure, such as your bank or a heavy duty insurance rated safe. When moving cash from your premises use a money collection service if possible. If you have to take the money to the bank yourself you should vary the times you do this and the route you use.
To help reduce the risk of robbery:
- ask staff to remain vigilant and observe customers entering the premises
- record and report any suspicious incidents
- make sure that CCTV and alarm systems are in good working order, provide good coverage and are serviced regularly
- take extra care when opening and closing
- ensure you have secure cash handling areas
- have at least two people present when handling cash, opening or closing
- consider hiring extra staff at night
- hire security staff
- think about your route to the bank, vary the days and times you travel with cash
- always keep cash out of sight when transporting it
Make sure your staff are well trained and know what to do in the event of a robbery. You should include all staff in your robbery prevention plans and train them in the use of any equipment or system you install.
In the event of a robbery:
- stay calm
- co-operate with the robbers demands
- keep still and don’t make any sudden movements
- don’t take risks or put yourself or others in danger
- try to remember as many details about the robbers as you can, and write it down
- If you have a panic alarm, use it if it is safe to do so
Although distressing, most robberies are over quickly. If you’ve been the victim of a robbery, close your premises and try not to touch or move anything. Write down any details you can remember about the offenders and what happened. Call 999 and ask for help.
General information on protecting your property can be found under burglary.
Burglars are often opportunists and will rarely target high risk properties. By keeping your premises secure and investing in good quality security equipment you can help to make your business less attractive to potential thieves.
You should follow general burglary advice and also:
- invest in a good quality safe and fix it to something secure
- install a visible intruder alarm and CCTV cameras
- fit motion detection security lighting
- use good quality, strong doors, frames, shutters and grilles that are certified to at least PAS 24:2012, PAS 24:2016, STS 201 BR2, STS 202 BR2 or LPS 1175 SR2 standards
- make sure all windows, doors, and panic escape bars are locked overnight
- apply glass film to windows to increase strength, or consider fitting laminated glass
- remove high value goods from window displays
- bank your cash after closing
- make sure only trusted members of staff have access to keys or combination locks or invest in a time lock safe
- check regularly that no keys have been lost
- don’t leave keys to secure areas within the shop after closing
Well trained and alert staff are the best way to prevent shoplifting. Teach your staff how to spot potential thieves and to report any suspicious behaviour to a senior member of staff immediately.
Make sure staff know what to do if they spot a suspect. Often making suspects aware that they have been noticed will be enough to stop them from carrying out the crime. Unwanted attention, such as asking them if they are ok or if they need any help can make them think again.
If a theft has already occurred staff should keep the suspect under observation and call the police for further help.
Technology has become an important part of many businesses. The information stored on devices can be very valuable to criminals, so it’s important for businesses to protect themselves.
Make sure you have robust IT policies in place and that staff follow these rules at all times. This should include regularly updating software and apps, using strong passwords, ensuring networks are secure and keeping up to date with online scams that affect businesses. You may also want to restrict how staff and visitors can use their own devices to access company information, applications and networks.
If you are selling online, make sure you put measures in place to protect your business and your customers.
For further advice on best practice visit the cyber crime advice page.
Get Safe Online has detailed information and practical advice on how to make sure the technology you use within your business is safe and secure.
Violence against staff
Violence in the workplace in unacceptable. But as a business dealing with members of the general public, occasions may arise where staff could experience abuse and violence.
It’s important to complete a risk assessment and have a business policy in place for the prevention of violence, you should also make sure all staff are aware of this. Be clear that staff safety always comes first, and the protection of property second.
If an incident occurs staff should:
- remain calm and non-confrontational to minimise risks
- put their personal safety first and know they are not expected to get involved
- back away from anyone using threatening behaviour
- know how to raise the alarm
- know how to operate security equipment such as panic buttons
- remember as much information as possible about the offender
Staff who have experienced any form of violence or abuse should receive support from their employer. Make sure managers and senior staff are aware of the professional counselling and local victim support schemes which are available.
You could also consider joining a business crime reduction partnership scheme in your area. These schemes help to create a safe and secure environment for customers and staff, by sharing information about offenders and local security risks.
Construction site security
Construction sites are often easy targets as many lack basic security. This allows offenders easy access to steal valuable items such as equipment, heavy machinery and metal.
Take care when erecting and deconstructing a site, as this is the most common time for equipment and machinery to go missing. Consider issuing ID badges for workers and employ guards at all entrances to challenge anyone not wearing one. Involve your staff in crime prevention by asking them to look out for anyone acting suspiciously on or around the site.
To ensure your site is well protected:
- invest in a quality alarm system
- secure perimeter boundaries with 2.4m high fixed hoarding with lockable gates
- photograph and register equipment and machinery with Immobilise
- consider anti-theft devices such as wheel clamps and gear shift locks
- invest in a tracker for expensive machinery
- put up an inner security compound to store the most expensive equipment and machinery
- encourage workers to take their tools home with them at night
- consider installing CCTV and movement activated sensors
Get to know your local police. By working closely with the police, you can help us keep crime down and we can help you protect your premises better. Report anything suspicious that takes place on your premises, and ask for our advice on security and crime problems in your area.
You can call 101 at any time to report an incident or ask for advice.
Always call 999 if there is a crime taking place or a threat to life.