Guide

Protect your business against crime

Business security survey

To protect your business premises, you should first assess the local environment, eg street, business park or shopping centre. You can look at the level and types of crimes that are being carried out in your area using the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI's) crime mapping.

Business security survey

This assessment will form part of your first steps to performing a full security survey. A business security survey should include both an external and an internal assessment of any crime risks to your business. Try the onion-peeling principle, which involves thinking about your business and its premises as a series of layers, to conduct your survey.

Preparation for security survey

When using the onion-peeling principle, you should take security measures at each layer to delay and deter the criminal, and to protect or remove any potential targets for crime. There are three types of physical targets in most businesses:

  • buildings - eg stores and garages
  • property - eg cash, stock and equipment
  • people - ie staff, security guards and visitors

Your aim at each layer is to:

  • reduce the potential rewards of crime
  • reduce any potential provocation to commit crime
  • remove any potential excuses for criminal behaviour

You should concentrate on all areas of security and consider all potential targets and the effects on them, such as financial loss, temporary closure, inability to deliver goods, or staff morale. Other risks to consider include: fraud, violence, graffiti, computer data theft, etc.

When preparing your security survey, you should take into account:

  • the amount and types of crime in the area using the PSNI crime mapping
  • whether anyone nearby has been a victim of crime
  • whether any business crime partnerships exist in the area - eg Retailers Against Crime

Use a map to identify access to your business property and potential entry and escape routes. You need to consider any escape routes for offenders that may not be easily seen.

carrying out a security survey

Consider using a security checklist when undertaking a safety survey to ensure that you cover all areas of concern. Download the PSNI's business crime reduction self-assessment checklist (PDF, 40KB).

You should keep notes on your security survey to help future security plans and make them more effective.

There are four areas to consider for your security survey:

  • environment - the area around your business - eg the street or alleys bordering your premises
  • perimeter - how someone could gain access to your business property from the public space
  • the shell - eg doors and windows that could provide access to your buildings
  • interior - ie inside the building, and how this could be protected from criminal activities

You should walk around the boundary of your business property and check for any weak areas, both during the day and when dark. Identify opportunities for crime, such as:

  • walls or fences that could be climbed
  • bins or other objects that could be used to climb or could be targets for arson
  • tools or materials left out that could be used to break in
  • possible hiding places
  • any poorly lit areas that could be used as cover for a break-in

Fencing and property boundaries

Steel fencing, railings or walls of at least 2.5 metres in height can make effective boundaries for your business property. You could also use barbed or razor wire, rotating vanes or electric fence alarms at the top of fences or walls, and anti-climb paint to make access harder.

When dealing with the shell, you should think about security measures that will delay an attempted break-in or put off potential offenders. 

You should pay particular attention to the:

  • roof, especially a flat roof
  • cellar
  • loading bay
  • side of your business
  • back of your business

You should think about how a criminal might view the business when open and closed, during the day or at night.