Crime is a big part of life for many businesses, and construction sites are no different. Whereas retailers need security guards to keep an eye on suspicious behaviour, on our building sites we are forced to make provision for these problems too. While there are parallels, such as using overnight security guards, keeping the building company’s property safe can form a much bigger challenge, as we don’t have the luxury of a well secured shopping mall to protect us.
Common solutions that we draw on include lock up units, delivered to site on a lorry and winched into pace by a crane, but it’s just not convenient to remove all materials, which are often very heavy (such as pallets of bricks) and lock them away every night. That’s why human protection is often required in the form of security guards and night watchmen. If it’s anything larger than a tiny site though, anyone with sinister intentions can easily monitor the movements of a night security team and strike just after they have moved on to a different part or their patch.
Technology has created much better deterrents, and they’re proving quite effective. On a recent project just outside the town of Northampton, we chose to tackle an ongoing problem with crime on a site beside the M1 motorway. This was always going to be a high risk site, because of the remote location and the immediate access to high speed transport links to escape the scene. By using a local team of CCTV installers in Northampton, we fitted cameras around the site in very prominent positions, and it had an instant effect as a deterrent. A lot of the crime was low level, such as fences being damaged or knocked down, so was believed to be children playing on site. Obviously, this is not just a problem for materials being disturbed and damaged, but more seriously very likely to lead to injury (or worse) eventually.
There had been a number of thefts from the site too, mainly of building materials, and a break in to the site office. As with many crimes, it’s not the value of the stolen items that is of greatest concern, it’s the lost productivity and dealing with the administrative tasks of getting back on track. A simple change like adding video surveillance through temporary CCTV cameras made all the difference.
Allowing workers to be confident the site will still be as they left it when they arrive in the morning can help with morale, and certainly the opportunity to prevent injuries to children should spur any site manager into action. It also shows locals that you’re taking things seriously, as a common complaint on building sites is the unwelcome attention they attract.