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Businesses warned to protect vacant premises

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

LEADING South Wales security company Specialist Security has offered advice to those with vacant commercial property.

As many businesses adapt to working remotely, hundreds of thousands of commercial properties are being left vacant.

During this time, it is important for business owners and building managers to ensure all commercial property is appropriately secured, says Specialist Security managing director Rachel Fleri.

An image showing a bar on Mill Lane in Cardiff, boarded up to protect the premises.
Credit: Matthew Horwood

Failing to secure a commercial property properly can lead to it being broken into, vandalised or its contents, including stock and essential equipment, damaged. Not only does this have the potential to further delay the business being able to return to operate from the property but could also cost the business more money, and impact on insurance costs.

Rachel has outlined how businesses can protect commercial property left vacant by taking the following steps:

1. Where possible remove high value goods to a more secure location

This step can help remove temptation to break into the property and reduce the risk of damage to its contents. Important documentation should also be removed from the premises.

2. Consider physical security measures

Physical security measures will offer a barrier to entry. Ensure that windows and doors are locked. If your commercial property does not already have shutters or grates this may be something to consider in order to protect vulnerable entry points.

3. Ensure your alarm system and CCTV is in good working order

This is the least costly option for vacant premises but will only be of benefit if the response to an activation is timely and reliable. If your premises doesn’t already have an alarm fitted this is something that should be considered. Good alarm installation companies are accredited by companies like the NSI (National Security Inspectorate) or SSAIB (Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board). If you already have an alarm and/or CCTV installed, you should check it is in good working order. Your installation company will do this and the checks may be a part of your maintenance contract.

4. Once an alarm is installed, get to know the keyholders

The response to activations is unlikely to be conducted by the installer. They will have been contracted a keyholding company to attend should the alarm be activated. Before assigning your keys to a security company check their credentials.  Security companies that hold keys and respond to alarms will also likely provide security officers to guard your property. Like the installation companies, good businesses that provide officers will be accredited and regularly audited. These companies should operate to British Standards like BS 7499 and BS7984. They will likely be a member of the SIA (Security Industry Authority) Approved Contracted Scheme (ACS) and will be able to show you their up to date certificate.

5. Consider using a Security Officer
Having your property alarmed and a suitable alarm response service in place to respond is a good first step to securing your property. However, the best way to secure premises is to use a security officer. The officer should hold an SIA license and be screened to BS 7858. They should be a direct employee on PAYE and not self-employed. Deploying security operatives is not cheap and you should be careful to consider that from April 1, the National Minimum Wage will be £8.72 per house. Companies are required to pay Employers’ NIC, pension contribution, and holiday pay on top of the officer’s rate of pay, so be wary of inflated quotations. However, a noticeably low cost may also indicate that the operative is not directly employed and therefore may not be adequately insured.

6. Consider the additional needs of your property

Many guards will carry out additional services for you. You may have mail that requires sorting or temperatures monitored to prevent stock spoiling. Most companies will be more than happy to assist you.

Rachel said: “For many, this will be the first time they have left their commercial property vacant for a considerable amount of time and its easy to overlook the potential damage that could be done in their absence.

“It’s really important businesses take the extra steps to ensure their property is secured. We urge anyone who has concerns about their security to get in contact with us, and we can offer advice and recommendations at this uncertain time.”