Why You Need a Physical Security Risk Assessment, and How to Conduct One

Theft and vandalism, unauthorised access, anti-social behaviour, arson, white collar crime and even terrorism are all potential threats that should be considered when planning security arrangements for commercial premises.

Risk assessments for physical security

Theft and vandalism, unauthorised access, anti-social behaviour, arson, white collar crime and even terrorism are all potential threats that should be considered when planning security arrangements for commercial premises. Of course, not all of these threats may sound relevant to your business, whilst others could be more real than you would care to imagine.

And this is precisely the reason why a physical security risk assessment is so important, to identify the specific risks that relate to your business and your premises, so that you can take steps to mitigate them.

Even if you already have measures in place to protect your premises, valuables and people, it is important to consider that things change. New risks can arise and certain threats can intensify, making it crucial to ensure the security you do have in place is fit for purpose.

This is especially the case if you have recently made changes within your business, for example taken on more staff, introduced flexible working, now have lone workers or have invested in new plant, machinery or technology. Further, if there has recently been an increase in crime rates locally, you may wish to implement additional measures to make sure your business does not fall victim.

What is a physical security risk assessment?

A physical security risk assessment puts existing security measures to the test, whilst identifying any gaps that need to be filled.

The risk assessment highlights areas of risk, detects weak points and shows where improvements should be implemented. It is best carried out by a security professional with the experience and expertise necessary to identify all of the above, and to advise on the most appropriate solutions that fit the scope of requirements, and any budget restrictions.

The following steps summarise the physical security risk assessment:

1. Identify the risk

The level of risk depends on various factors, including the type and location of the premises, the nature of the business carried out, the number of staff and how they work, and whether there are any public visitors to the premises.

All premises have some degree of vulnerability, but this will vary from one to the next. For example, a service-only business located in a busy urban area will have very different levels of risk to one that produces high value stock and is located in a rural area.

Potential risks to identify may include:

  • Current crime rates in the local area
  • Number of people with access to the premises
  • Number of entrances and exits to the premises
  • The nature of the onsite assets
  • Whether or not the public attend the premises
  • Whether the premises are listed or historical
  • Whether the premises are subject to periods of shutdown

2. Assess threats and vulnerabilities

Once the risks have been identified, the next step is to assess which areas present the most vulnerability.

Some areas of the premises may be at more risk than others, for example those that allow public access, that give way to a final exit door, that are close to other buildings, or that can be accessed via the public highway.

All these factors require individual assessment, with the related risk factors considered.

3.  Review existing security measures

A physical security risk assessment will examine the site in its entirety, including the building and grounds as well as its facilities and assets, and will identify the effectiveness of current security measures and how they are being used.

Sometimes, whilst security measures may have been installed, it may come to light during the risk assessment that they are not being used properly, or even at all.

For example, are CCTV cameras positioned correctly? Are doors and windows being locked? Alarms and CCTV activated? Are barriers and shutters being used and is everything fully functional and subject to regular servicing and maintenance where required?

It often comes as a surprise to business owners that the security measures they assumed were protecting their premises are often not being used in the correct way, or are not up to scratch.

4. Review security policies and procedures

The risk assessment will involve a review of your security plan and ensure policies are in place to keep all staff well-educated in terms of how to keep the premises safe.

Specific policies and procedures will need to be put in place for particularly high risk situations, for example, lone working and seasonal shut down.

Such vulnerabilities can, over time, be identified by experienced criminals who will look to take advantage of any opportunities to target the premises.

Your physical security risk assessment – make it proactive rather than reactive

It is vital that breaches of physical security should not be the only reason for arranging a physical security risk assessment.  

On the contrary, security risk assessments should be carried out as standard on a regular basis, and should form the foundation of your corporate security plan and overall business plan.

At Barry Bros Security, our accredited and highly experienced security experts have been working closely with businesses and commercial property owners for more than seven decades, ensuring premises are protected in line with the specific risks they face.

You can consider a physical security risk assessment an investment in the future success of your business. To arrange your fully tailored assessment, we welcome you to contact Barry Bros Security or call in to our London showroom.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.