On 23rd March 2020, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, moved his strategic position for treating the risk from COVID-19 from common sense social distancing to a near lockdown across the country. As a response to the recent public groupings against the tide of medical and government advice, this aims to reduce the strain upon the NHS and hopefully increase the opportunity for the vulnerable to be treated fairly and humanely.
However, how does this affect crime, its patterns, emerging threats and how does this affect us?
Certain types of criminal threats can be classed as predictable. For instance, where repetitive ‘hot-spots’ continually attract similar types of crime, whether robbery, theft to a person, drugs use, weapons use, anti-social behaviour or violence.
However, when communities change position, pattern of life varies and restrictions are implemented, the predictive dynamics also change. Commercial spaces are already largely vacated leaving more lone workers, populated residential spaces are more crowded and public realm is inaccessible, leaving insufficient natural surveillance and lack of police monitoring and support. It is also likely that prisoners may start to be released as the virus starts to consume prisons.
All of this raises questions about how we forecast and mitigate the effect on business property, residential housing, retail, public realm, and the building users themselves. In this, our first blog in a series of guidance we’ll be issuing over the coming days, we look at the implications for commercial properties and their occupiers.
With the majority of the population working from home over the next few months at least, the commercial office spaces which would have been typically occupied will now be near vacant. Businesses may be fortunate enough to have operational solutions such as manned guarding and/or physical/technological security systems in place to provide layers of proportionate protection. But, will this be enough?
In security design, the operational or human element is often classified as a security layer that will or can add a positive benefit to security layering. However, we must never rely solely on this. The cross-layering of functions such as doorsets, glazing, access control, CCTV and other common office security functions can work together effectively without relying on the human factor as a primary requirement. Should the human element be distracted, unable to be present or reacting to another incident, this could provide the single point of failure in an integrated security system trying to respond to a threat.
Those not lucky enough to have such systems in place, may need to employ some common sense solutions to enable protection and/or response, or hope that their properties are not worth targeting in the first place!
- Is your business protected by manned guarding? At present, not all SIA contracted security roles are classified as ‘key worker’ occupations (The SIA (Security Industry Advice) confirms as of 26th March 2020 that the current definition of key worker DOES include regulated (licence holding) security professionals, essential to national infrastructure, operating in critical roles: https://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx). If your top security officer is now off sick, who is protecting your building?
- Ensure your visitor/contractor policy and procedures are reviewed to ensure that they are appropriate to any changes in risk.
- How is your office protected? Is there more than one security layer between the main entrance and your office area?
- Are the lifts grounded and procedures in place to ensure permitted entry is required?
- What about your assets? How is your company information being secured? IT servers, storage locking?
- If someone breaks in, how will you know? Does your office have commercial intruder detection?