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Business crime

Business Crime

A crime prevention expert’s guide to protecting your business

West Midlands Police employs a number of ‘crime prevention design advisors’ who are specially trained to advise, support and guide police colleagues, local authorities, designers, developers, architects and partner agencies to help ‘design out crime’ in the short, medium and long term.

These advisors also spend a considerable amount of time working closely with businesses of all sizes, from corner shops to national chains, to improve security. Here’s their expert advice to help resolve some of the most commonly faced issues:

 

Protect your staff

Business Crime

Training your staff

It’s vital to inform your own staff of any crime prevention measures you have taken (or are planning to take) and train them how to use any equipment you have installed.

Reporting suspicious incidents

Explain to your staff the importance of keeping a watchful eye out for people or vehicles acting suspiciously in and around your premises.

Key security

Ensure key security is part of your staff training programme. Only specially selected staff should have access to certain keys or combination locks and keys to secure areas should not be left unattended.

Lone working

Don’t open or close your premises alone if you can help it.

Window displays

Don’t block the view - in or out of the window - of the street with window displays.

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Protect your assets

Business Crime

Asset management

Property mark company items such as computers, laptops and other technology with an approved asset marking product that can be seen under UV lights and contains uniquely identifiable micro-dots. Build asset marking and recording of serial numbers into your company policies.

Housekeeping

Remove any items that could be used to force entry to your premises or to cause damage (including arson). Encourage your staff to maintain clean and tidy work areas and to secure valuables at all times.

Safes

A good quality safe will protect cash and valuable items overnight but you should also take the added precaution of bolting it in place and positioning it discreetly.

A time-delayed opening safe and signage highlighting that access to cash in your safe is controlled by time delay could be a good investment too.

Cash handling and tills

Don’t keep large amounts of cash in the till and don’t count cash in view of customers. Also lock the door before removing the cash drawer or box and vary the times and routes of your banking routine. Don’t make it obvious what you are carrying and generally try to avoid walking the streets with takings, even for a short distance.

Consider using cash staining equipment (dye packs) for money in the till. Also consider till position carefully – if it is too near the door it may attract robbers wanting to make a quick getaway.

Visibility

Fit low-level aisles and use mirrors to reduce blind spots so your staff can see customers at all times.

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Protect your premises

Business Crime

Strengthening potential entrances

Use high quality door frames and doors and windows. Request that they are made of materials that comply with the minimum strength as set out by the construction industry. They should also be tested or approved to the required standards and fitted by an approved skilled tradesperson.

Glass and glazing

Laminated glass is harder to break due to the way it is manufactured. In order to be effective however, the window frames must also be in good repair and meet the required testing standards.

Grilles and shutters

These can act as a deterrent for burglars but will need planning permission and fitting by an approved company or tradesperson if they are fitted to the exterior of your business.

Intruder alarms

You may deter potential burglars by displaying evidence that you have fitted an intruder alarm. Always fit an alarm using an approved contractor – more advice can be found on the BSIA, SSIAB or NSI websites here. More advice can be found here.

Video surveillance

CCTV can be used to deter criminals and to record crime if it happens. It is an extremely useful and powerful tool for the police and has assisted in the prevention and detection of many crimes.

  • Clean the camera lens and recording equipment regularly.
  • Maintain your CCTV systems using a recognised engineer.
  • Store all recording equipment and in a locked cabinet so a thief cannot remove evidence during an attack.
  • CCTV - regularly maintain your CCTV system and have in place a policy for managing and changing recordings.
  • Keep a digital image for 31 days before recording over it.
  • Check that time and date settings are correct. Not only will this avoid confusion as to when the incident occurred, it will also help prevent the defendant challenging the recorded evidence in court.
  • Display signs to warn the public they are being recorded.
  • Direct a camera towards the till from a doorway so you get a clear head and shoulders image of everyone leaving your premises.
  • Backlight your cameras if they point at doorways to limit the effects of the sun shining through doors and avoid recording a silhouette image.

Seek advice from an approved BSIA contractor to ensure you get the best from your CCTV.

Lock up

Make sure windows, doors, panic escape bars and internal doors are secured before leaving the premises overnight. Also switch off the power supply to loading bay shutters.

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Protect your perimeter

Business Crime

Vehicle access

Fixing bollards into the ground around your premises will guard against vehicle borne attack but you will need to consult your local planning authority and landlord first. Some bollards are designed to be removed during trading hours.

Barriers and other road blocker devices can be used to close off vehicle entrances when they are not in use or as part of an access control system. How you secure your premises depends on your location and circumstances and after consultation with a security professional or approved installation company.

Lighting

Good lighting may deter a potential burglar and will also increase the chances of an intruder being seen. Unlit areas can provide hiding places for thieves.

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If you become a victim

Business Crime
  • When safe to do so, look outside for the exit route and method of escape used by the offender.
  • Dial 999 and ask for the police. If someone is hurt, ask for an ambulance.
  • Lock up the shop and only let the police in.
  • Keep customers and any witnesses on the premises as they may have seen something you did not. If they are determined to leave, politely ask if you can take their names and addresses before they go.
  • Never compare descriptions or discuss what happened before the police arrive.
  • Avoid touching anything.
  • Wait until police arrive before trying to find out how much they stole.
  • Preserve anything the robber left behind.
  • Write down everything that happened as soon as possible or you will soon forget something important.
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Facewatch

A 'Facewatch' application – or app - allows smart phone and tablet users to view CCTV of people wanted by West Midlands Police while on the move − and anonymously submit names of people they believe may be involved or other information about the crime.

Once installed, the app gives people the option of viewing a local gallery of pictures displaying images of suspects that officers would like help in identifying.

The app allows people to search images via postcode and distance, and information about the suspects can be anonymously submitted to the force directly via the app.

Companies can also use Facewatch as an instant crime reporting tool which allows them to electronically provide CCTV pictures of suspects, plus crime details, to detectives within minutes.

It's a development expected to save West Midlands Police countless hours of officer time previously spent visiting businesses, and securing, processing and formatting security camera footage.

Crime reports submitted via Facewatch are instantly sent to a police contact centre and passed to the appropriate investigation team; officers can then access full details of the crime from their desktop whilst automatic update emails are sent to the victim.

The application is free to download on iPhones, iPads, BlackBerry and Android devices. To download the app, search your phone's app store for 'Facewatch'. It can also be accessed directly via a web browser at www.facewatchid.co.uk.

The use of both the online reporting system and the mobile app is completely free.

More information on Crime Reduction