Anyone who wants to protect a home or business should look before they leap for the lowest cost alarm or guarding service, warns a security expert.
Andrew Hallam, director of Leicester-based Premier Security Services, says it’s understandable when householders and companies want to save money, but they have to be careful to ensure that security isn’t compromised.
He says legislation, technology and the economic downturn have radically changed the security industry in the first decade of the new century, with huge implications for people buying its services.
While there have been advantages for customers – such as better licensing of security guards and lower cost CCTV systems – there have been other developments where the net benefit has been less clear cut, he reckons.
"One massive change has been the introduction of strict licensing, which the industry needed, but the cost and time involved in complying has reduced the number of security companies in the UK, which means less choice for customers," he says. "You now have the top 20 security companies controlling more than 80 per cent of the market."
Speaking after Premier Security Services achieved ISO 14001 accreditation for environmental management, he said quality standards, alongside licensing, had made security a more professional industry.
"It’s a fact that the same factors that lead businesses and householders to look at cutting costs on security also lead to increased crime," he points out. "So services that are based on saving costs – with low cost wages for personnel and low rates for customers – could be compromising security at a time when the risk is elevated."
He said the advent of new technology also had mixed blessings.
"Technology is improving all the while. In some instances, guards patrolling buildings have been replaced with remotely monitored CCTV, and that can work well, but every case has to be looked at to ensure you are not making a false economy and putting your premises at risk."
A veteran of 20 years in the business, he has seen a rise in specialist security firms focused on specific areas such as health and safety, and fire. There are also more security firms specialising in niche markets, such as marine and aviation and retail.
Premier Security Services carries out reviews of premises and recommends strategies for beating theft and other risks. The company can be contacted on 0116 268 9480 or email email@example.com