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CRIME: Prevention is Better Than Cure

WHY WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE?

Crime is unfortunately not a very pleasant subject and is therefore also avoided in general despite the fact that the media relentlessly bombards us with horror stories. The already high crime rate in our country always appears to be on the rise. Often crime and security are not given much thought or serious consideration, as long as things are running smoothly and remain incident free. It is only usually when something happens and you find yourself or your loved ones / colleagues a victim of crime that the real value of security is realized and by then it is simply too late.

Photo Credit: pages.vassar.edu-750
Photo Credit: pages.vassar.edu

DEFINITION OF CRIME: IT’S TOO LATE!

Typically our clients (both residential and business) have already spent thousands on security and their systems only to be targeted by a criminal attack in the future. It is only at this point that they realize there is something wrong with their security and it is obviously just not enough. Unfortunately, most South Africans only gain wisdom the hard way by suffering a disaster or a traumatic event. Attitudes towards crime and security need to be drastically altered. Why is it necessary to experience huge financial loss or even worse the loss of life or serious injury before it is understood how important security is?

Photo Credit: www.wibwnewsnow.com
Photo Credit: www.wibwnewsnow.com

The goal of the independent Security Consultant is to to arm all individuals, communities, homeowners, property developers, complex committees, residential and commercial estates, security and building managers as well as business owners with the necessary knowledge to ensure that they are ALWAYS IN CONTROL of their security. By having a Security Risk & Threat Assessment conducted you will be provided with the relevant skills and in-depth know-how to make your property more resistant to crime. A well-thought through Security Plan and professional recommendations for solutions will assist you in not wasting money unnecessarily. All factors within your security shall be considered and verified that they indeed complement each other and not hinder or affect each other in a negative or adverse way.  Please remember that sometimes there is no financial cost required in the solution but a change in attitude or routine is all that might be needed to remedy the problem.

A Security Risk Assessment conducted by an independent, professional and experienced assessor will help you to identify all risks and weaknesses in your security system that may create an opportunity for a crime to occur. By removing these opportunities, crime can proactively be prevented. Why wait until it is too late before you take action?

Security Managers: Understanding the Role of the Independent Assessor

There is often a reluctantly on behalf of the experienced Security Manager to call upon the services of the independent Security Risk Assessor. Reasons may include the fact that the Security Manager may feel he is placing his job in jeopardy because the board may view him as incompetent or that the company has simply not allocated sufficient funds in regards to security, but to name a few. The role of the independent consultant also remains largely misunderstood.

What is not realized is that the Security Consultant is actually an ally to the Security Manager. Often when the Security Manager presents a problem to the board alone, the situation is not fully acknowledged or realized, but if the same information is provided by the Security Risk Assessor, as a professional and external source, the board understands the problem and is more likely to allocate the necessary funds required for the solution. Furthermore the detailed Security Risk Assessment report supports better budget planning in regards to security and the expenditure of the company becomes more stabilized as unnecessary costs will be eliminated.

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The Security Risk Assessor is also in the best possible position to reveal the true status of the company’s security. As an outsider, the Security Consultant can provide an unbiased and accurate view without the fear of stepping on someone’s toes. Often the Security Manager may feel that he cannot reveal the full reality of the situation or company losses as it may place his position in the company in endangerment. It also needs to be noted that sometimes due to familiarity and close involvement with the company, that the Security Manager may not be able to see the source of the problem or may unintentionally overlook some important details. Again, the assessor can provide the Security Manager with a new perspective in regards to the company’s security and be able to recommend workable solutions to alleviate the problem.

The process of the Security Risk Assessment is complicated and intricate. There is no quick, checklist and security can by no means be based on guesswork. The first phase consists of a full, thorough investigation of the site from the outside in. Various layers are considered and inspected before the next phase can begin. All threats and weaknesses in the security status of the company is identified and revealed. Based on these findings and extensive, active research, the independent assessor will then begin to derive workable solutions based purely upon functionality and need within the individualistic and unique Security Plan. This information will greatly aid the Security Manager in his important and vital role within the company by allowing the value of security to be measured and communicated to the board of the company.  Furthermore the Security Risk Assessment can be used by the Emergency & Disaster Management Coordinator in good and effective future planning.

Disaster Management & the Security Risk Assessment

We were recently invited to speak at a conference regarding Disaster & Emergency Planning and I received a lot of insight and new information from my colleagues and the other speakers. When considering disaster, the first things that automatically spring to mind is hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, fire and the like. These are all natural disasters. Furthermore there are technological disasters such as communication infrastructure failure, chemical spills and even power blackouts. Although in South Africa, we are relatively unaffected by such natural disasters as the rest of the world, one real disaster situation that is not immediately considered is that of crime and violence. This is where security and safety play the largest role and relevant information needs to be gathered to facilitate good planning.

This threat is a large one and the perpetrator could be from an external source, such as armed gunmen or a hostage situation, or it could be an internal threat meaning it is someone from within the organisation, the business or the institution. An example here would be a pupil at a school smuggling a weapon into the property and shooting at his classmates and teachers. Or more commonly in our country, a strike situation that turns volatile and violent. Individuality is easily lost in the mob mindset. These are the types of disaster situations that we may be most likely to encounter in our lifetimes.

Planning for such an event is rather difficult as there are so many other factors and variables involved. Furthermore one disaster could trigger another and cause a domino effect such as the strikers purposefully lighting a fire, which could again in turn result in an explosion and subsequent building collapse. In this case people need to be evacuated from the afflicted building as quickly as possible and managed well enough to avoid a panic and stampede. The injured need to be attended to and adequate communications structures, backups and protocols need to be in place to ensure that help is summonsed as quickly as possible. This is a huge responsibility and needs to be shared by a selected group of individuals that make up the Emergency Management team including the Disaster Management Coordinator, Health & Safety Officer and the Security Manager.

Very few properties have actually experienced a full blown emergency situation. This makes it difficult to draw from the past when planning and often such incidents are not properly logged for effective auditing purposes into the future. This is why the sharing of information within the community and even with the local and district authorities, similar institutions and businesses, and insurance companies is necessary to gather enough information to base such vital planning on. Another useful tool would be to have an independent Security Risk Assessment conducted on your property to investigate and fully identify all possible risks, threats and weaknesses present. With this knowledge the planning process will be greatly aided and many factors that could pose a danger in the future can be addressed immediately and eliminated to prevent disaster from occurring.

Assessing Risk Accurately

WHY THE SCALE METHOD IS INCORRECT

To date, there are no set rules, no uniformed checklist or any definitive means in which to determine risk. This is highly applicable to many assessors that attempt to define risk on a grading scale and rate areas and points within a property as low to high. Many variations of such applications exist, but generally the points range from the lowest or no risk at 1 and continue up to 5, indicating high risk. Simplification of this method may rate risk in just 3 categories only.

As independent Security Risk Consultants we view all risk as equal and firmly stick to the principle that risk cannot therefore be accurately graded or summed up in this manner. One of the reasons for this is that a given risk rating is not purely objective as there are no rules and therefore depends on the assessor conducting the security inspection. Background, experience, training, relevant security knowledge and personal aspects such as belief or being a victim of a crime oneself could affect the score as deduced by the assessor, which allows for misinterpretation and ultimately incorrect conclusions.

Risk Graph 1 - 5: Incorrect Process

For example, should an assessor be petite, overweight or even have a fear of heights, he / she may conclude that a particular wall is too high to climb and rate the perimeter as a 1, but a tall, strong and athletic individual who enjoys extreme sports like skydiving perhaps, would see the wall as no obstacle to himself / herself or a determined criminal, and would rate the wall higher on the scale. In the event that a crime occurs and this wall is used as access into the property, the first assessor would have been wrong and ultimately the crime would not have been prevented as a low risk rating excluded the wall from further security upgrades. Unfortunately too many companies have had such Security Risk Assessments done only to find thereafter that low rated areas were actually where incidents occur. Usually this is where the independent security advisor  is called in to reassess the security status.

Consider it even further and assume that 5 assessors are asked to rate this particular wall using the scale system. For each and every one of them, a different point could be selected for whatever reason or factors their opinion was based upon. Perhaps only one could be considered correct and that was if a 5 was given.  In our eyes all areas should be an automatic  5 and be considered, instead of being seen as high risk, but rather in terms of the opportunity present at this point for a crime to occur. When conducting a Threat Assessment, this is how we view risk –  in regards to opportunity and not probability. This approach has proven over the years to be more accurate than the scaling system.

The Process & Phases of the Security Risk Assessment

When dealing with the public, we have found that the actual process of the Security Risk Assessment is not always understood. Once we have explained all it involves, and how we are able to provide our clients with security solutions within a workable and comprehensive Security Plan, is the true value of this vital tool actually realised. The assessment process as conducted by an independent Security Advisor can be viewed as consisting of 2 phases which result in the compilation and completion of the Risk Assessment document.

The first initial phase is preceded by a formal meeting with the client to ensure that the scope of the assessment encompasses any additional expectations the client may have; besides those that we already provide. It is important that we meet these goals and only after this is agreed upon does the thorough investigation of the property begin. This involves the examination of a multitude of vastily different yet interconnected layers in regards to the physical security of the property, which spans over several days depending on the size of the site and the property type.  Security is not just hardware or the physical attributes of the building but consists of other aspects that most other assessors do not take into consideration. All these factors are viewed individually and also as a unit to determine an accurate overview of your current security status and the risk involved.

The Multiple facets within the Security Risk Assessment
The Multiple facets within the Security Risk Assessment

All the data gathered during the security inspection is analysed, audited and compared. At this point Phase 2 commences which covers the security solutions within the individually tailored Security Plan. A lot of in-depth research, and the consultation of experts in the field if so required, is necessary before the actual formulation of any recommendations are made possible. All suggestions that we provide are therefore solely based on the findings of the extensive investigation phase which reveals all the weakness and potential threats present that could provide opportunity for a crime to occur.

Upon completion of the assessment the client is handed a detailed Security Risk Assessment report which outlines and explains all the risks, as well as the provision of the various solutions to ensure that their properties will be effectively protected and therefore more resistant to crime. Through reverse crime engineering and the removal of the aspect of opportunity, successful crime prevention is made achievable. The Risk Assessment will ensure that all security into the future is built on a strong and solid foundation which will ultimately place you in control of your security.

The Security Risk Advisor – Your Security “GP”

When one is physically unwell, an appointment is made with your GP to review the symptoms, discover the cause of the ailment and to provide the cure to restore wellbeing. Your Doctor would also tell you what to avoid in the future or how to adapt your lifestyle so that this problem does not reoccur. This is something we have all done and we consult a health professional to provide us with the necessary advice when so required. The Security Advisor should be seen in the same light, except that our expertise lies within the field of crime and security. Our consultation and the guidance dispensed are within the Security Risk Assessment.

Should your GP discover that your illness requires a specialist to assist you, he / she will consult with or refer you to the right person. This could be a neurosurgeon or a chiropractor, depending on his / her findings and your specific needs. Here again, as Security Advisors, we will do the same and if answers cannot be determined through the ongoing and extensive research we do by default, we will call in an expert to lend a helping hand in the formulation of the solutions with no extra cost to you.

As professional consultants in the security domain, our first step would be to do a thorough security inspection of your entire property and your physical security status. This investigation consists of multiple layers that do not just include your hardware or your security provider. Aspects such as daily routines, the surrounding environment, Security Awareness and differences between various hours of the day are included and examined as a unit, as well as individually. This part of the Security Risk Assessment will determine and identify weaknesses within your security system that could provide a criminal with opportunity. All this is laid out and explained in full detail with accompanying photographs within the Risk Assessment so that you are fully aware of all the risk on your property.

After analysing all this information and a comprehensive security audit has been conducted on the data, the formulation of your individual Security Plan begins. All solutions provided are based on the outcome of the assessment and are researched to ensure that the recommendations are the best for you and your unique situation. This will provide you with the knowledge to make good and informed decisions regarding your security, which will additionally be based on a strong, solid foundation into the future. The Security Advisor will provide you with control of your security. This in turn places you in the position to proactively protect your property, assets and family / employees. Moreover training for the conduction of the Security Risk Assessment can be provided, as well as employee, household or communal residencies in Security Awareness.