The 7 biggest physical security threats to businesses

UK businesses are the victims of physical crime more than once every minute, according to figures released by the National Business Crime Centre.

Here, we take a closer look at the seven most common threats and what you can do about them.


1. Theft and burglary

These types of incidents will typically take two forms. The first being opportunistic or spur of the moment – such as snatching a mobile phone or bag that has been left unattended and in plain sight.  

The second is more sophisticated and will be subject to greater planning. A burglary of this nature will usually target items of value that are perceived as easy to ‘shift’, such as money and goods, computers, electrical equipment, vehicles and other physical assets. Important documents being held on site may also be targeted.

While both these types of crimes can compromise operations, the latter is likely to have a far more significant impact, so anything you can do to deter a would-be criminal and not appear an easy target, is key.


2. Vandalism

Vandalism may be regarded as low-level crime, but for businesses it can still come at a high cost. There will always be time and an expense attached to clearing it up, including replacing damaged equipment, furniture and fixtures.  

Extreme vandalism can result in costly repairs, business interruption, and compromise customer contracts. Premises may not be fit for purpose, forcing temporary closure and subsequent loss of income. A claim may also need to be made against business insurance, which could see premiums rise.

One of the best defences against this type of crime is to limit access to the site, wherever possible, and to have a visible security presence in place. The shorter the window of opportunity, the less damage that could be caused.


3. Arson

Did you know arson is the most common cause of fire in the UK? Crimes of this nature can be very serious and even deadly, putting the lives of staff members at risk, along with neighbouring properties that may get caught in the crossfire.

That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, in line with your broader fire safety plans. For example, never have rubbish building up and keep bins in a securely locked compound, at least eight metres away from the building. Also look at ways to make it more difficult to access the site, where appropriate, and look at measures such as security patrols and monitored CCTV.


4. Workplace violence

Workplace violence is on the rise. In fact, incidents of workplace violence in Britain have risen by 8% according to official government figures. More shocking still is that 54% of such violence is carried out by strangers, including customers, official site visitors and members of the general public. Those in public-facing roles, such as NHS staff and others who engage with strangers day-to-day, are therefore at a heightened risk.

Workplace violence is something that no employee should have to tolerate and as an employer you have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for those in your employ. For more advice on tackling this issue, see our blog: 6 steps to protecting employees from workplace violence


5. Terrorism

Extremist behaviour is something no-one likes to think about, but which needs to be part of security planning and strategies for every business. From entertainment venues to private and public sector organisations, acts of terrorism remain a potential threat that can have devastating consequences.

Prevention is vital, so if you or anyone within your business sees or hears anything suspicious, it’s imperative you feel safe enough to come forward and report it. Likewise, as an employer, you should foster an environment where employees are assured they can share information in confidence.

Suspicious behaviour may include a stranger loitering around your premises, or perhaps taking photos or a video without reasonable cause, or a colleague expressing extremist views or threatening behaviours. Both the government and the Met Police have published guidelines for protecting your business from terrorism as well as offering advice for staying safe and acting responsibly.


6. Insider job

While employees are the lifeblood of your business, occasionally they may pose a threat to your organisation too. Access to sensitive information of a commercial nature can, in the wrong hands, lead to instances of insider trading or bribery. Likewise, employees entrusted to file business expenses or handle aspects of business accounting may commit financial fraud.

Other examples of employee-based crimes include disgruntled employees who may attempt revenge on the business, while opportunistic employees may steal from you or use their insider knowledge to coordinate a break-in. These types of employee crimes can be mitigated through enhanced security processes (both physical and online), which can inhibit criminals from acting and provide valuable evidence should an offence take place.


7. Employee mistakes

Unfortunately, even well-meaning employees may inadvertently act as a conduit to business crime, falling foul of sophisticated scammers who pose as legitimate customers or organisations. While this nature of crime typically falls within the realm of cybercrime, it’s also possible for employees to be tricked in face-to-face situations and over the phone.

Fake customer accounts are on the rise, while phone calls pertaining to be from legitimate organisations or industry bodies are also leading businesses to direct cash to criminals under false pretences.  These types of schemes exploit employee trust, while taking advantage of legitimate business relationships. The result being a devastating blow to an employee and a costly error hit for a business.

Regular training and a dialogue around such issues, is one of the best lines of defence, along with having relevant systems and processes in place to try and prevent problems before it’s too late.


Minimise the risk for your business

If you want to minimise the risk of your business being the victim of crime, the first step is to ensure you have a comprehensive physical security strategy in place – one which assesses the individual threats to your business, premises and assets and how best to manage them.

For more ideas and advice, see our blogs: 9 top tips for improving your workplace security and also What security measures should your business invest in?


Professional security you can trust

For more than a decade, Venture Security has been providing professional security services to customers based across Hampshire, Wiltshire and the broader central/ southern region.

Call us for more details on 01264 391538 or email