How to protect your construction site this Christmas

How to protect your construction site this Christmas

Simon Baugh, Head of Group Marketing at DeterTech, walks us through the steps for securing active sites over the Christmas period.

It’s no surprise that, after months of working outside in all weathers, construction workers are looking forward to downing tools for a well-earned break. However, sadly there’s one trade that remains hard at work throughout this period – it’s boom time for criminals looking for an easy target.

Here at DeterTech, we operate a national intelligence portal for the police and critical infrastructure companies, tracking organised crime gangs across the UK. For sites that we protect we also spend a lot of time monitoring activations that are triggered to our Alarm Receiving Centre.

Based on this we can state with confidence that sites come under increased threat at this time of year. Activations requiring police intervention consistently peak in November and December. In recent years they’ve also remained stubbornly high throughout January and into February.

A particular issue is of course the Christmas period, which should be planned for accordingly.

Planning for a secure shutdown

The presence of expensive equipment, materials and machinery makes construction sites a year-round attractive target for organised crime groups. However, there are a number of reasons why they are considered particularly vulnerable at this time of year.

The first is the long, dark winter nights that provide ample opportunity for theft and vandalism to be committed under the cover of darkness. Another is the greater likelihood of bad weather and the additional challenges it presents for those responsible for maintaining site security. All of a sudden, identifying suspicious individuals becomes more difficult when everybody is wearing cold weather clothing with much of their faces covered. Just because somebody is wearing a high-vis jacket doesn’t mean they are authorized to be in the vicinity. Equally, it often means work schedules are having to be delayed at short notice, which increases the chances of assets having to be temporarily stored on less secure parts of the site.

However, by far the greatest factor is that this is the time of year sites are most likely to be left unmanned or minimally guarded for the longest period of time. This not only minimises the chances of criminals being caught but also increases the size of potential thefts. If criminal gangs discover a site looks to have been left unguarded for the entirety of the Christmas period, then it’s probable they’ll make multiple visits and return in greater numbers.

The prospect of returning to work to encounter a crime scene is a hangover nobody wants. Particularly when the on-going costs of replacing what is stolen, repairing damage and ensuring the site is safe before work can resume is taken into account. Construction site managers should therefore start preparing now. There’s still time to put appropriate measures in place to detect and deter criminals. However, that window is quickly closing.

Leaving preparations such as scheduling the installation of remotely monitored temporary site security solutions to the last minute is highly inadvisable. At best it’s likely that prices will increase as the availability of intrusion detection units, installation engineers and SIA licensed monitoring operators tightens. At worst sites will go unprotected as the additional temporary site security solutions needed will simply be unavailable for the timeframes required.

Protecting your sites

When putting plans in place the first thing to consider is the location of the site and the ease with which people and vehicles could gain unauthorised access. Managers should take this opportunity to refresh any security audits previously carried out on the site and to take note of any previous thefts to inform conversations about additional hardening measures that might be needed.

A clear timeline of when the site will shut down and for how long should be agreed and clearly communicated to the client, subcontractors, suppliers and any other relevant parties. Then, perimeter fencing should be inspected and if necessary reinforced. And steps should be taken to minimise the storage of valuable equipment and materials on the site, or to arrange for it to be locked away out of sight in secure containers.

It’s at this point that calls should urgently be made to the preferred security partner to provide visually verified site security over the Christmas period. Whether the decision is to invest in external remote monitoring, on-site manned guarding or most likely some combination of the two it is vital this is not left to the last minute. The sooner it is done the more likely it is that they will be able to accommodate the site’s preferred installation schedules. Emergency contacts should at this point also be agreed so that in the event of an incident, everybody knows who to notify.

The closer we get to Christmas the more hectic things are likely to get. There will inevitably be some elements that have to be done at the last minute. However, everything outlined in this article could be actioned immediately, easing the pressure and bringing the peace of mind that comes with having planned ahead.

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