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Guarding approaches

Securing buildings, people and prized possessions has always been a priority. Traditionally, manned guarding was the preferred form of security but today with the development of technology the options to secure a building are continually increasing. David Ward, Managing Director of Ward Security suggests that even although technology can provide ingenious solutions there is still a balance to be struck between old and new security techniques.

Manned guarding may be one of our oldest and most traditional security techniques but it is still far from outdated. Having security guards visible and patrolling your premises is an important and invaluable deterrent for many organisations and not least, provides a reassuring element to the people working or living there that they are in a safe and well-protected environment. This approach is frequently deployed when providing security for critical infrastructure, multi-tenanted office space and at facilities such as shopping centres, leisure centres, or busy public areas where high footfall is common.

Guarding by having men on the ground can be augmented further when you introduce the presence of dogs. People are generally more scared by dogs than people, and certainly than by cameras, and as a result some types of private security work are best served with patrol dogs rather than the use of security officers or cameras. Where there are large areas to patrol, dogs really come into their own particularly for businesses that have to store goods outside. While people are used to seeing the police using dogs for search and detection as well as for law enforcement, public park patrolling is a growing area where local authorities are using private security firms with dogs.

Equally, more modern techniques such as CCTV and WIDS (Wireless Intruder Detection Systems) have a useful role to play. CCTV has an important role in our society in aiding the Police to monitor and track criminal activities – what one camera can monitor is more than humanly possible for one man. London has the highest number of CCTV cameras installed than in any other city in the world with 33 councils operating around 7,431 public CCTV cameras.

While the police believe the presence of a camera make people feel generally safer the Met Police’s CCTV unit has publicly admitted that most forces do not have the systems to retrieve, process and distribute CCTV crime scene images. So, while it is a useful tool in terms of identifying suspects, providing alibis and monitoring public order to assume that simply adding more cameras equates to better security is mistaken. For a CCTV system to work, organisations need to make sure it is has a smart design, sound installation and the correct level of monitoring. Cameras on their own are not enough and very often it is a blend of traditional security guarding alongside modern techniques that provide the optimum solution. The two very much complement each other when it comes to keeping staff, premises and assets safe.

Faced with so many different options it can be increasingly difficult to decide what the most watertight security solution is for your premises. The fundamental question for any Facilities Manager concerned about security is: what are the elements of the business that need protection and what level of security is appropriate to ensure their safety? There is no one-size-fits- all solution and depending on your business size and sector the security requirements will vary. Security should always be bespoke to each ‘site’ and while security should not be driven by price the reality for many organisations is they must work within limited budgets and therefore it is important to think carefully about what security route to go down.

If round-the-clock manned guarding is not financially feasible then WIDS could be a good alternative. A wireless intruder detection system comprises a number of night-vision cameras and movement sensors but it is far more than just an alarm. If the sensors detect movement then the cameras are activated and video footage is sent via cellular network to a control room where footage can be viewed in real time. How the security firm then responds is dependent upon the severity of the intrusion or damage that has been caused. The beauty of a WIDS is it does not require mains power and can operate for years on just one set of batteries. It is also portable and cost effective.

Amid all the technology the people who operate it must not be forgotten and having the right personnel and back up support remains critical. If you are employing a security firm ask key questions about their staff – how do they recruit, train and reward them? Are staff licensed and screened? And what accreditations does the company itself have?

About the author

David Ward is Managing Director of the Kent-based contract security company Ward Security. For more information – visit


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