A Bellrock Group Company

Security in Shopping Centres

04 Jul 2014

10 Things Shopping Centre Landlords Should Know About Security

Security is a critical element of property management, especially at shopping centres, where footfall is high and access is unrestricted. Property owners and managing agents need to pay close attention to how security services are specified and delivered at their centres. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Crowded places, such as shopping centres, are likely to feature in the attack plans of terrorist organisations, as they typically have limited protective security measures. It is important to provide staff with regular training and have the necessary controls in place to help identify and respond to hostile reconnaissance, or suspicious behaviour. The Police provide nationwide training free of charge.

2. Insurance policies in respect of terrorist acts, loss of revenue, business interruption during rebuild or decontamination and protection against compensation for injury, or loss of life can be extremely costly. It is recognised that awards for serious injury and loss of life often exceed injury compensation limits and so victims may decide to take legal action to recover shortfalls from owners, or managers, impacting on cash flow.

3. It is essential that owners and managers seriously consider business continuity, which is often overlooked. The aim is to recover to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible after an event. All plans should be regularly rehearsed and tested, to ensure they are effective and those coordinating them are familiar with their roles. Occupiers should also be advised to incorporate resilience into their business models.

4. Protecting reputation is absolutely essential at shopping centres. If the public have doubts regarding the protective measures in place, they opt out of shopping there. Although a visible manned guarding presence reassures shoppers, it should form part of a holistic physical protection system, proportionate to the risk.

5. Individuals who own or run retail outlets are at risk of criminal prosecution in the wake of a terrorist incident, if discovered that they have not followed the appropriate Health & Safety risk management processes. These include risk assessments, communicating and coordinating response plans between the stakeholders, establishing the appropriate procedures and providing staff training.

6. Our research indicates that security costs are typically the highest cost category in the service charge. This is due to the fact that security is overly reliant on costly manned guarding. Property owners and managers should consider instructing specialist security consultants (not security service providers), to undertake holistic security risk assessments and to advise on proportionate countermeasures. The nationwide specialist police Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSA) also provide free of charge advice to property owners. Please see our national benchmark reports for more information: Research and Benchmarking.

7. Security risk management is extremely important and should be discussed and coordinated at Board level. Risk assessments are a key component of risk management and will identify critical assets, potential threats, vulnerabilities and appropriate controls to reduce the risks to people, information and infrastructure to an acceptable level. This process will take full account of relevant statutory obligations and protections, including the Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act, the Official Secrets Act, Equality Act and the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

8. The nature of the threats will vary depending on the location of the shopping centre. Whilst there are typical threats, such as terrorism, bomb threats, arson, vandalism, anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, violence and sexual offences, a risk assessment should involve detailed research to determine the level of risk (probability and impact).

9. A perimeter break-in may be considered a retailer’s concern and responsibility. However, a single breach may lead to a larger area of the centre being compromised. Occupiers should be educated in ‘situational crime prevention’ techniques, which in summary include increasing the effort, increasing the risk, reducing the rewards, reducing provocation and removing excuses.

10. Property owners and managing agents often rely on security service providers to prepare site plans and procedures (Assignment instructions). Specialist security consultants should be instructed to cyclically review assignment instructions to ensure effectiveness. The appropriate contractual Key Performance Indicators and service provider management support should be established to ensure any issues are swiftly addressed.

Should you have any queries about security in commercial property, please contact our Security Consultancy Keith Douglas: keith.douglas@property-solutions.co.uk