In-house versus outsourced security – the pros and cons

Thousands of businesses, of all shapes, sizes and industries, are the victims of crime every year. Each incident comes at a cost; from the physical damage that may be caused to premises and equipment; to the loss of assets; and the downtime this can result in. Not to mention the negative effect that crime can have on staff member morale and the reputation of the business.

When it comes to crime prevention, one of the key considerations a business needs to make is whether to employ security guards in-house, or to call on the services of an external security company. With all the advances being made in technology, there is also some debate as to whether a physical security presence is even needed at all.

Here, we take a closer look at the pros and cons of in-house versus outsourced security, as well as the role that technology now plays in crime prevention.

The pros and cons of employing in-house security guards


Full integration within the company culture

Employing someone directly means each individual guard can be more fully immersed and embedded within the company and its culture. You can handpick who joins and because there will be a direct relationship between the company and the individual, it can encourage deeper feelings of loyalty. Other employees are also more likely to regard the security guards as being part of the team, rather than outsiders.


When security guards are employed in-house that means it will always be the same team on site, providing consistency and familiarity for employees and visitors. They can live, breathe and speak the company values and have a greater awareness for the wider company goals and objectives.


Expensive to find and retain

One of the biggest factors is cost, especially if you need to cover a large site, 24/7, 365 days a year. There are shift patterns, holidays and sickness to consider, you also need to ensure you are operating in line with all employment rules, such as the Working Time Directive and Lone Worker Safety. Providing ongoing training and specialist equipment is another expense. Not to mention the cost of finding and recruiting experienced guards in the first place. All risk is held by you, which can also impact on insurance premiums.

Hard to get rid of poor performers

Depending on the type of contract you offer, it can be difficult to get rid of someone who doesn’t come up to scratch, or who isn’t a good ‘fit’ for the company. There are employment procedures that need to be followed, meaning it can take a significant amount of time to make changes - as opposed to working with an external security provider, where you can simply ask for a change of personnel, were it ever required.


The pros and cons of using an external security company


Scalability and flexibility

Working with a security company that offers a range of services, such as manned guarding, mobile patrols and alarm response, means you have greater choice when it comes to creating a physical security strategy that fits the exact needs of the company. It also makes it easier to scale-up or adapt such provision, when business needs evolve. You also have an easy way to manage any one-off events or unplanned incidents that may arise, as you can ask the security provider for additional manpower and support.


Manned guarding is expensive and with an external security company you will have access to some cost-effective alternatives. For example, mobile patrols can be used to boost site security out of hours. They work by having a security officer make an agreed number of site visits and checks at random times throughout the night. This can be a strong deterrent, while limiting the time criminals have available to cause damage or steal property.


Quality varies between providers

The quality of security companies can vary wildly. It’s therefore important to ensure you are going to be working with an experienced team who know what they’re doing. Contingency planning is key, as you need to work with someone you can trust to always deliver on their promises. The SIA register of approved contractors and ACS Pacesetters’ websites are good places to start, but always ask for proof of ACS scores. Seek recommendations, ask to view insurance documents and confirm that any claims being made are genuine. You’ll find more pointers in our free checklist: Everything you need to ask when choosing a security provider

Less control

When using an external security provider, you must place your trust in the hands of the company. You won’t have full control over who comes on site, their appearance or manner. You’ll need to trust that work is being carried out to the level and quality that you are expecting. And it may take some time to manage and shape the relationship in the way you want it. Again, this will come down to the quality of the company you work with and their communication and reporting procedures.


Technology alone will never prevent crime

In answer to the question of whether you even need a physical security presence, when so much technology is now available, the answer is - you need both.

Even if you invest in the latest cutting-edge video surveillance and other high-tech equipment, you still need someone to be monitoring and reacting to it. Otherwise, you may simply be left with some great footage of a criminal gang at work and almost certainly with no usable evidence against them!   

Every technology also has its weak points and blind spots and there is even the risk that by investing in flashy security systems, you may be suggesting to the outside world that there is something of value worth stealing inside.

Ultimately, it’s about investing the budget you have available, where it is going to have the greatest potential impact.


Trusted security

Venture Security is ranked among the top 1% of security companies in the UK. From manned guarding to mobile patrols and key holding services, we help our customers keep their premises, assets and people safe.

Our specialist team works with businesses big and small, based across Winchester, Andover, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Fareham and the wider central-southern region. For more information, or to book a free security review, please call us on 01264 391538.


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