Keeping your Business Safer
Businesses of all sizes can’t afford to compromise security and safety, so we’ve gathered advice for business owners and managers.
Reporting business crime
To report a crime against your business, please use Hampshire Constabulary’s online reporting facility.
To report a violent assault on a member of staff, always call 999.
Call 999 immediately if:
- it feels like the situation could get heated or violent
- the crime is in progress
- someone is in immediate danger, or
- you need help right away.
If you are a member of a business crime reduction partnership, please also record any crime committed against your staff or business on the systems used by the partnership. This will make it easier for the partnership to analyse crime trends in your area and work with the police to target resources appropriately.
Detailed crime prevention advice can be found in the expanding sections below.
Find out more about the work of the Safer Hampshire Business Partnership as well as other opportunities near you to work together with other businesses to tackle business crime.
Head back to the Crime Prevention page to find more advice and tips, check out Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary’s crime prevention advice, and have a look at these online tips to support your digital business safety or the National Business Crime Centre.
Harassment, abuse and violence
Incidents of abuse and violence at work are increasing and are a concern that has been highlighted in consultations with local businesses.
What is violence at work?
Any incident during which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to work. This includes verbal abuse, threats and physical attacks.
What can be done?
Some steps that can be taken to avoid situations that could result in violence include:
- Train staff to be able to spot the early signs of aggression and to be able to avoid it or manage it
- Have set procedures for staff to follow should an incident look like it may turn violent
- Keep records so staff have access to information to assist them in identifying and handling clients that have any history of aggression
- Provide a positive physical environment for customers
- Consider installing security measures such as cameras and alarms, locks for doors between public and staff areas and good external lighting.
- Avoid lone working – or if lone working is unavoidable, ensure working practices are in place which staff are trained in – see the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for more information.
- For personal security and lone worker – Stay Safe when Socialising (securedbydesign.com)
When confronted with a violent situation it is important that you and your staff remember the following:
- Stay calm
- Try not to respond aggressively or be drawn into an argument
- Trust your intuition and never underestimate the threat
- If you feel threatened do not hesitate to seek assistance
- Always record details of what has happened
- Most importantly, call the police
Anyone who has been the victim of violence can access support through the Victim Care Service, which is open to all victims no matter what the type of crime, regardless of whether the crime has been reported to the police or not, and no matter how recently or how long ago the crime took place.
The Health and Safety Executive have produced a guide for employers to respond to violence in the workplace and a guide on working alone.
Also refer to our guides for dealing with the effects of hate crime or domestic abuse in the workplace – see below.
Hate Crime: supporting employees
Supporting Employees affected by Hate Crime
The Safer Hampshire Business Partnership, Hampshire Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Enterprise Rent-a-Car Ltd have worked together to create an employers’ guide to hate crime, designed for businesses who want to ensure their managers and employees are supported appropriately should they become a victim of or witness a hate crime in the workplace. Read the guides by clicking on the thumbnails below.
Further advice and information on reporting hate crime and getting support if you are affected can be found on our hate crime pages.
Domestic abuse: supporting employees
Supporting Employees affected by Domestic Violence
The Safer Hampshire Business Partnership and Hampshire Constabulary have created an employers’ guide to domestic abuse, designed for managers who want to offer practical support for employees who are identified as victims. Read the guide by clicking on the thumbnail below.
24 HOUR NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELPLINE
0808 2000 247 – offers support, help and information and can refer to refuge accommodation
For further information and support about domestic abuse, see Hampshire Domestic Abuse Partnership
There are a few simple steps you can take to limit the damage to your assets and stock should your business premises get burgled.
- Make sure there is a note of the make, model and serial number of each piece of equipment.
- Mark all equipment.
- High-value equipment or equipment essential for your business should be secured in a separate room and access to the room controlled.
- Fire-resistant safes should store important information.
- Computers need to be protected by firewalls and anti-virus software.
- Signs, such as ‘no cash kept on premises’ can deter criminals.
- Ensure all cash is secured away overnight.
- Keep records of your stock and do regular stock checks.
- Keep stock away from doors.
- Keep high value stock somewhere more secure.
- Limit the number of people that have access to the stock room.
- Put away stock as soon as possible after delivery.
It is also worth considering your business environment. This is the area around your business, for example the street, retail park or pedestrian area. It is worth looking after the appearance of your premises – a well maintained business exterior gives the customer a good first impression and helps increase feelings of security. A business in a run-down state is more likely to attract a criminal.
- Remove graffiti and rubbish quickly.
- Try to form partnerships with other businesses to share the security costs.
- Walk round your boundary, checking for weak areas.
- Ensure the boundary is built from appropriate material and is secure and well maintained.
- Secure gates, doors and other entrances when frequent access is not needed.
- Imagine you’re a criminal and look for opportunities for crime (e.g. climbing walls or fences, bins that can be used to climb over a wall or start a fire, hiding places, areas with poor light).
- Secure or remove anything which might be used to break in or cause damage.
- Improve visibility by cutting back vegetation, moving bins or improving lighting.
Police have put together further useful advice on how to protect your business from the outside in. Secured by Design (SBD) is the UK Police flagship initiative that is founded on the principles of designing out crime and crime prevention
Security and Procedures
An alarm-receiving centre monitors alarm activation so calls can be passed to a security company, the police or someone who has a key.
See the Small Business Guide to CCTV
Intruder alarms may need to be supported by other security devices. These can include CCTV, devices that generate smoke (to impair intruders’ vision) or chemical marker systems. All technical systems must be regularly maintained and used responsibly.
Whatever the size of your business, your staff need to be involved in improving security at your business:
- Train all staff in security and safety and your emergency and security procedures.
- Ensure all personal property is kept out of sight and locked away, e.g. in lockers or a locked draw.
- Protect staff from theft and violence, e.g. screens.
- Check the identity of visitors and people making deliveries.
- Make visitors aware of the security measures you have taken to make them feel safer. This will also put off criminals.
Staff working alone can be especially vulnerable. You can reduce the risk to them with a few simple measures:
- Personal alarms
- Radio link schemes
- Controlled access or CCTV (with audio)
- Automatic warning devices which are set off if the person doesn’t report in at a set time
- Regular checks either by phone or in person
Every business should have adequate security and safety procedures. These can include:
- Locking a delivery door immediately after delivery
- Staff reporting suspicious behaviour
- Reducing the amount of cash on the premises
- Transferring excess cash into a tamper-proof unit
- Removing cash from each till over night and leaving the till draw open
- Removing all keys from the premises
- Taking cash to the bank as often as possible
- Avoiding paying wages in cash
- Always counting cash out of sight
- Procedures for handling credit and debit cards – use chip and pin.
The following tips are a good starting point:
- Look at what deterrents can be installed in the store, such as mirrors and cameras. Think about how easy it would be for a shoplifter to take items unobserved from your store.
- Put large ‘shoplifters will be prosecuted’ signs in prominent positions in the store to act as a deterrent.
- Train staff to be observant at all times and to report anything suspicious to their supervisor. Remember well trained, vigilant staff are one of the best ways of combating shoplifting.
- Have a bell by the till and set up a warning system, such as two rings if you think something suspicious is going on.
- Check references carefully before taking staff on.
- If you have security problems don’t wait for them to get worse – call in the experts.
- Don’t put expensive items where they can be easy targets for opportunist thieves, such as by the front of store or near the door
- Think about the hiding places people may bring into shops with them – bags, push chairs, even umbrellas.
- Pay particular attention to groups – some shoplifters operate in groups and use distraction techniques such as complaining loudly or asking to see the manager, so that the others are free to operate.
- Think about the layout of the goods in the store.
- Ensure you have clear sight from the tills across the store and can see the entrance/exit clearly.
To reduce the amount of shoplifting in your business you could:
- Establish a policy on how to report to the police and ensure all your staff understand it.
- Train your staff to be your eyes and ears and give regular refreshers.
- If you suspect somebody in the store, make yourself busy near them, smiling, making eye contact and others sales techniques – this can be an effective deterrent.
- Use dummy display goods for high risk items.
- Use display ‘loop’ alarms and tagging for high value items.
- Ban persistent offenders from entering your store
- Think about the layout of the good in store.
- Ensure you have clear sight from the tills across the store and can see the entrance/exit clearly.
The police provide free advice on how to spot a shoplifter and give some simple tips for making your shop environment more secure.
Keep windows clean and clear: Remove posters and advertising from windows. Your staff will feel safer as clear windows make it easier for them to spot a potential threat and take action; it also means people passing by can see into your shop, which will put off some criminals.
Notice your customers: Greet all customers as soon as they walk into your shop as criminals often check out premises before they rob them. They don’t normally like places where they know they’ve been seen by staff.
Take extra care when opening and closing: You and your staff may be more vulnerable at these times, if it is possible try to get two people to open and close your shop. Stay alert and look out for suspicious people or vehicles. If you have any concerns, do not open your shop. Move to somewhere safe within the premises, for example into a back office.
Record suspicious incidents: Write down anything suspicious that happens in and around your premises. Include details such as descriptions of the people and vehicles involved, vehicle registration numbers and the date and time of the incident. It will also help you work out whether you need to take specific measures for particular or persistent problems.
Get to know your local police: Working closely with the police can help keep crime down and help you protect your premises better. Let them know about anything suspicious that takes place in your shop and ask for advice on security and crime problems in your area.
Other useful tips:
- Use a secure container for carrying cash but do not draw attention to it. If you have large amounts of cash to bank, use a recognised cash carrying company to collect it.
- Vary your route and the times that you go to the bank. Don’t use public transport. Use busy main roads and walk against the flow of the traffic.
- Consider a personal attack/hold-up alarm for staff that is connected to a monitoring service.
- Install a secure safe. Consider counter-drop safes, safes with time delays, night safe facilities or cash transit safes.
- Consider CCTV equipment and position to capture a face view of anyone entering the premises.
- Have a pre-arranged signal that you can use with colleagues to indicate that a robbery is taking place.
During a robbery
Despite taking crime prevention measures, you and your staff still need to know what to do in the event of a robbery. Firstly, remember that if you only keep small amounts of cash in your till, robbers will have little to get away with. If your premises are robbed it’s important to:
- Stay calm: try not to panic – although it’s distressing, most robberies are over quickly.
- Safety first: remember that the most important thing is the safety of you, your customers and staff.
- Alarms: if you have a hold-up alarm, use it, but only if it is safe to do so.
- Remember details: try to memorise as many details as you can, such as the age, sex, height and hair colour of the people involved, as well as what they are wearing and the things they are carrying. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember.
Immediately after a robbery
- Close your premises.
- Call 999 and ask for police and other emergency services, if required.
- Don’t move or touch anything.
- Contact Victim Care Service
Terrorism not only has a major impact on innocent people who are directly affected by it, it also impacts on businesses from the destruction of property to increased insurance premiums.
Counter Terrorism Policing has launched an advertising campaign as part of ACT: Action Counters Terrorism. This campaign aims to encourage the public to remain vigilant, look out for suspicious behaviour and inform people how to report their concerns.
Retailers and other businesses operating in crowded places are also being asked to play their part in countering the terrorist threat. Businesses can do this in two ways, the first being to sign up to ACT Awareness, the innovative online training scheme designed to help industry better understand, and mitigate against, current terrorist methodology.
Sixty Second Security
Secondly, you can consider your business contingency plans and draw up a ‘Sixty Second Security’ plan which has the power to improve your reaction to emergency situations.
Designed to be a quick checklist, it requires businesses to ensure all their staff know the answers to simple questions such as:
- Who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, and do they know what they’re doing?
- How do you enter and exit the building in emergency
- How do you lock down quickly?
- Where can you hide?
- How do you communicate and how do you stay updated if you find yourself in a “Run, Hide, Tell” scenario?
- Have you briefed your staff?
Specialist advice for companies operating in crowded places, such as major events, sport stadia, visitor attractions, bars, theatres and shopping centres, is available on the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) website along with CT Policing’s new ACT Awareness e-Learning tool. See also Secure By Design
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has also developed a series of security awareness campaigns, designed to provide organisations with a complete range of materials they need.
Fraud affects 1 in 4 small businesses every year. It’s important to recognise that a fraud can come from anywhere, including staff members, customers, suppliers and unconnected third parties. Fraud can also seem inherently complicated and difficult to understand, as criminals use a variety of tools and techniques.
Defend your business against fraud
Be sceptical: Always approach deals, opportunities, documents, transactions and information with an inquiring and questioning mind.
Know your business, finances, customers and suppliers: This will help you detect when something is not right, where a seemingly ordinary business request or transaction looks out of the ordinary.
Identify areas of vulnerability and develop a strategy to minimise risk: Identify how a fraudster might target your business. Establish procedures and measures to reduce risk. Ensure you and your staff are familiar these systems, test and review them on a regular basis.
Protect your tech: With increasing threats from cyber-crime, make sure your business technology is adequately protected against attacks. Make sure you have back-up your systems in case they go wrong.
Seek advice and always report fraud and get help: Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. Report fraud here if you have been scammed or defrauded. Action Fraud provides a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime. You can also report fraud to the police if the suspect is known to you or still in the vicinity.
Counterfeit bank notes
One of the Bank of England’s key responsibilities as a central bank is to maintain confidence in the currency. The Bank is responsible for providing banknotes that you can use with the confidence that they are genuine. Check out the Bank of England’s advice on how to identify a counterfeit note and what to do if you find one.
Further information can be found in the Safer Hampshire Business Crime Guide, and the Little Book of Big Scams – business edition is also a useful guide.
Check out these online tips to support your digital business safety.
Theft by employees
Employee theft can include a variety of things, such as:
- Theft of cash from a till
- Forgery of company cheques
- Theft of inventory items/equipment
- Employees granting a friend or other person a discount at the register or charging for fewer items than the amount purchased
- Theft of information.
You can reduce the risk of this happening by taking some simple precautionary measures:
- Always check references – even for temporary employees.
- Establish a clear policy on theft and security and give this to all employees.
- Keep cheque books locked up and restrict access to cash and cheques.
- Divide financial responsibilities among several members of staff.
- Control cash flow and document accurately where money is spent.
- Make regular deposits of cash in banks rather than allowing them to accumulate in cash tills.
- Check all invoices to make sure they match what was delivered and to ensure vendors were paid.
- Closely monitor high-value items like laptops and sat-navs by using a sign-in and sign-out system.
- Remove the opportunity to steal – where possible have different people taking it in turns to carry out different functions and checking one another’s work.
- Refunds, voids or over-rings should only be authorised in the presence of the customer.
- Check bins regularly and at random intervals.
- If there are any anomalies with the cash at the end of the day then respond appropriately.
- All employees should be allocated a secure place for their personal belongings within a staff-only area.
- Two employees should be employed to be present at the opening and closing of the store.
If you suspect theft has taken place you should:
- Make sure you have your facts straight – making a false allegation is very damaging to employer/employee relations throughout the business.
- Contact police and discuss your concerns with them.
- Make sure you follow the statutory disciplinary procedures fully or you could end up losing in any future industrial tribunal.
Support for Employees
The Victim Care Service provides support for victims of crime to cope with, and recover from, the harmful effects of the crime they have experienced, including victims of business crime.
The Restorative Justice Service is a victim focused approach that empowers victims and communities by giving them the opportunity to:
- communicate with the person/s responsible for the offence
- explain how the crime has affected them
- ask questions