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December 14, 2023

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Physical security

Enhancing site security over the festive period

Making arrangement for enhanced site security at this time of year is one task that shouldn’t be left until the last minute says Simon Baugh at DeterTech, who discusses security threats to consider over the festive period as sites close for the year. 

Simon Baugh at DeterTech

We’re hurtling towards the end of the year and there’s still so much to be done before construction workers can hang up the high-vis jackets and hard hats for a well-earned Christmas break.

Expensive machinery and materials left unattended on-site over Christmas and New Year are an easy target for criminals. It should come as no surprise that they’re at their most vulnerable when the majority of us are at home with our families.

For those in any doubt, we’ve taken a closer look at the actions requiring a police response triggered across our own Alarm Receiving Centre. It tells us that incidents on construction sites significantly spike with the longer nights in November and December, staying high in January and February also.

Take a look at your to do list and check it twice. If proactive steps haven’t already been taken to enhance security over the Christmas shutdown, then make this an urgent priority. Whether the plan is remote monitoring, manned guarding or some combination of the two, it needs to be scheduled urgently.

Laying the foundations for a secure Christmas shutdown

High-cost plant, machinery, tools and metals make construction sites a prime target for organised crime groups all year round, but the threat of theft increases around the festive period. Several factors contribute to this increased vulnerability.

Firstly, the long, dark winter nights create the perfect landscape for criminal activity. Another factor is the bad weather and the issues this creates for those responsible for site security. With everyone on site wrapped in winter clothing and their faces covered, it can be harder to identify suspicious individuals from those who have authorised access. Just because someone is wearing a high-vis, it doesn’t automatically mean they should be on the site.

The weather, particularly periods of frost, snow or heavy rain, can also disrupt work schedules with little notice. This increases the threat of theft and vandalism as workers may store assets on less secure parts of the site, which makes them a target for criminals.

But the main threat exists between Christmas Eve and the New Year when sites are largely deserted. It not only makes it easier for criminals to gain access without being challenged, but also maximises the possible negative impact.

Knowing they can operate relatively undisturbed, organised crime groups will make the most of the opportunity which can increase the size of potential thefts. They may even return to the site multiple times in greater numbers to steal as much as possible.

To avoid returning to a crime scene in the New Year, construction site managers should begin planning for the Christmas shutdown now. There’s still time to put additional measures in place to help detect and deter criminals, but time is running limited.

This is a busy time of year for all temporary site security providers. There’s a real danger that companies leaving it too late find that nobody has available installation slots to  support them.

Protecting your site and your assets

ConstructionSite-London-UnsplashWhen planning to protect your site, one of the first things to consider is its location and how easy it is for people and vehicles to gain unauthorised access and remain undetected for any period of time. Site managers should consider reviewing security audits that have taken place on the site and look at any previous thefts or attempts to help inform their plans to strengthen their defences.

It is also essential to define a clear timeline for the Christmas shutdown. Site managers should include the first date the site will close and the date the site will reopen. Once armed with this information, they should distribute and clearly communicate it with the client, suppliers, subcontractors and other relevant parties.

Perimeter fencing is next on the list. Any existing fencing should be inspected for weaknesses and reinforced where needed to help prevent access for criminals. An audit of the equipment that will be left on site should then be made and arrangements for where it will be stored put in place. If possible, site managers should consider the use of locked, out-of-sight secure containers.

Once these steps have been completed, a security partner should be contacted to provide visually verified security that covers all angles of the site over the Christmas period. This call should happen sooner rather than later to ensure there is time to implement solutions such as external remote monitoring and on-site manned guarding.

Emergency contacts should be defined with your security partner, so that should an incident occur, everyone knows who to contact. It might be advisable to have a primary contact and one or two backup contacts in case the primary one isn’t available.

As the Christmas shutdown looms, it is vital that site managers act now to avoid delays in getting the appropriate security measures in place. Everything outlined in this article could still be actioned. But only just.

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