For most, the term ‘visitor management’ rouses associations with hospitality and creating a positive customer experience. While certain sectors, such as those within education, are all too aware of the dangers of poor access control measures, those within the corporate, residential and hospitality sector often underestimate the importance of implementing effective security measures when controlling the flow of visitors throughout a building or site. In an era where the terrorist threat is stronger than ever, James Kelly, Chief Executive of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) highlights the importance of choosing a high quality security supplier that will provide the best long term value to your organisation.
When it comes to providing effective protection against a potential terrorist or lone-wolf attack, the ability to effectively secure the perimeter as the first line of defence is essential. Whether the location in question is a transport hub, school, office block, retail centre, government building or power station, it is imperative that integrated and robust security measures are in place.
Securing the perimeter can bring about a number of challenges that need to be considered. Many of the locations in question can cover large geographical areas, and as a direct consequence, have extensive perimeters which need to be monitored around the clock. Sites with large, transient populations – such as transport hubs – also have the additional challenge of achieving a balance between ensuring the security of clearly defined areas of a site, where only authorised personnel should have access, without infringing too negatively on visitors and staff.
Looking more closely at the type of security measures that can be put in place to meet the need for the continued vigilance of site perimeters, there has undoubtedly been major developments in the ability to create a layered integrated defence strategy. Effective perimeter security can therefore be achieved by combining technology – which can be deployed to provide an early warning of suspicious activity – with physical security measures and manned guarding capabilities.
As the first line of defence, physical security measures can be deployed to restrict access and direct visitor flow through the desired entrance and exit points. Gates, barriers, doors and fences are the obvious choices for perimeter protection, but attention should be paid to some key considerations when these are deployed.
Firstly, doors should be fitted with high quality cylinder locks or five-lever mortise locks, and should comply with the standard PAS24-1, ‘Doors of Enhanced Security’. Areas not easily secured with lockable doors – such as turnstile entry points – should be covered with a security grade grille or shutter.
CCTV continues to play an important role in keeping a watchful eye on critical perimeter areas, acting both as a deterrent and an active measure for early intervention. More recently, demand for high-definition (HD) CCTV has been on the increase, which, when in place, offers the potential to deliver a much greater level of surveillance at critical or high-risk areas, such as site entrances and exits, and can also provide detailed footage to help secure convictions should an incident occur.
CCTV technology has also played a significant role in the prevention of terrorist attacks. Evidence gathered from failed terror attacks since 9/11 has been instrumental in the investigation of terrorist activity and has helped lead to 2,877 arrests for terror incidents. One such example comes from the failed attempt of 21/7 – just two weeks after the 7/7 bombings in London which killed 52 people and injured more than 770. Nearly 28,000 CCTV recordings gathered by police helped lead to the convictions of four men, who were ultimately found guilty of conspiracy to murder. The footage was condensed into seven hours’ worth of recordings from buses, trains and stations, which was then used as evidence in court.
Detector-activated CCTV can also prove useful in providing 24-hour alerts to site managers responsible for large-scale sites, enabling security personnel on the ground to be deployed quickly and effectively when an alert is generated.
Taking a general overview of the nature of perimeter protection, it is clear to see that integrating physical security measures with electronic systems provides an early warning and speedy response to potential incidents. It is essential that those responsible for the security of sites at risk of attack continue to place emphasis on the value of an effective security strategy.
The importance of Quality
Earlier this year, the BSIA published a white paper on the challenges of buying and selling high-quality security solutions. This came following research conducted by the BSIA amongst its members and anecdotal evidence that suggested that too many security buyers were making purchasing decisions based on initial purchase price alone, rather than quality. The industry has also been too keen to compete on price which has led to many companies offering solutions at a very low margin and being left with substantial costs they cannot cover.
One of the key findings of the BSIA’s white paper – titled “The (Real) Price of Security – the challenges of buying and selling high-quality security solutions” – is that procuring low-quality security solutions can end up costing far more in the long term and that singularly focusing on the initial outlay of a security solution can be detrimental, as this puts the focus on the initial expenses and ignores the costs over the term of the deployment.
Former Chairman of the BSIA, Pauline Norstrom, who spearheaded the research project, hopes that: “the white paper will provide educational value to both industry players and security buyers. For the industry, I hope that the white paper will enable us to communicate the valuable benefits of procuring solutions on the basis of quality.
“I also hope that it will help end users to think in terms of the wider business impact of security purchases, to challenge the brief and to consider the displaced costs which may arise. Essentially, I hope that the paper will educate the security buyer as to the art of buying a specialised security solution, rather than a bunch of part numbers or just cost per hour; instead to consider the value of the sum of the parts bringing a larger benefit than those parts working in isolation. It is the concept of the whole system, whether buying a service or a product offering that the security industry needs to explain to the security buyer,” explains Pauline.
The full white paper includes a number of key findings and recommendations for both the security buyer and is especially relevant to those wishing to procure access control solutions. The paper can be downloaded via the following link:
The British Security Industry Association represents seventy percent of the UK’s industry and our members are experts in the provision of security products and services across the entire spectrum of security. For more information on the BSIA, or to find a security company, please visit: www.bsia.co.uk.