suspicious man in hallway

Are you making your building vulnerable to passers-by?

Criminals, like everyone else, found their movement restricted during the pandemic, and crime fell. The most recent annual survey, however, shows crime rates rising once more, and now a leaked police report says that police forces fear that the cost-of-living crisis will fuel a boom in acquisitive offences, potentially to the point of a “breakdown in public order”.

The latest annual survey by the Office for National Statistics compared overall England and Wales crime to pre-pandemic figures and found that “the 6.3 million crimes recorded was 4% higher compared with the year ending March 2020”. The biggest drivers were fraud and violent crime, not theft, but police fear that is about to change.

Police forces are braced for a rise in crime, a breakdown in public order and even corruption in their ranks this winter as they draw up emergency proposals to deal with the cost of living crisis… they are increasingly concerned that “economic turmoil and financial instability” has “potential to drive increases in particular crime types”. These include “acquisitive” offences, such as shoplifting, burglary and vehicle theft…

Tony Smith, Major Accounts and Marketing Manager at Integrated Design Limited, comments: “When it comes to securing your building, you can never be too careful. You wouldn’t leave your laptop bag on the front seat of your car with your valuables exposed, waiting for an opportunistic passer-by to steal them. So, why would you leave your building exposed to unnecessary risk? Any obvious weaknesses in your security will make your building and its contents vulnerable to criminals, and may threaten your insurance if you haven’t implemented adequate security measures.”

Entrance control, especially when integrated with other security technologies, can go a long way towards intruder-proofing your building, particularly when it comes to protecting the most susceptible areas, such as your data centre, which is critical to the functioning of your organisation and where you might be storing sensitive data.

There are four major areas where you might be leaving your building unnecessarily exposed:

  1. Not looking like you’ve got adequate security
  2. Not actually having adequate security
  3. Not securing internal doors
  4. Your employees could be your biggest weakness

Let’s look at these in more detail and consider ways to prevent them.

The appearance of inadequate security

When scoping a potential target, the first thing to be scrutinised by a criminal will likely be the entrance points, especially if your building is busy with deliveries, staff and visitors all coming and going. They will consider how difficult it would be to enter the facility undetected, looking at whether you have security guards, a manned reception desk or an entrance control system, for example.

“Criminals will opt for the easiest target, unless their intended ‘prize’ is really worth the extra risk, so it’s important for you to consider what assessment someone looking in from the outside would make about your building at present”, continues Tony. “If you do not want your building to be open to the public, and potentially criminals with harmful intentions, you need to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t look like it is, with adequate visible security in place to dissuade any potential unauthorised entry attempts.”

Of course, you don’t want your entranceways to appear unwelcoming to authorised users.

“Aesthetics and user experience need not be compromised in order to provide the required level of security – you can achieve high levels of security without your users feeling like they’re entering Alcatraz”, continues Tony. If you want to learn more about striking this balance between security and design, read this article.

“We’ve seen a number of our customers, especially those working in high profile public sectors, seeking a highly visible yet still attractive entrance security system”, comments Tony. “More and more customers are upgrading to full-height barriers, which serve as a strong physical and psychological deterrent, as well as offering reassurance to those working within or visiting buildings.”

IDL has developed three full-height turnstile options, ensuring there is one to suit every environment and security requirement. Find out which one would be the best solution for you here.

Actual inadequate security

“Security for security’s sake isn’t what I’m suggesting, and nor should it just be a vanity thing with you opting for the most impressive-looking solution”, continues Tony. “It’s no good having security measures which look impenetrable, if they don’t actually do the job they are intended for.”

If you are designing a new security system for your building, you have the opportunity to create something which perfectly suits your requirements. There are many considerations, including the kind of environment you need to protect, the required level of security, the number of people – employees, visitors, temporary contractors – passing through on an average day, whether you want the turnstiles to be manned or not, integrations with other access control and security technologies, available space, design style, budget…the list is long. You can read more about how to choose the most suitable security turnstile here.

Often, however, organisations don’t have the opportunity to design their own, instead inheriting a legacy security system when they move into a building. If the system wasn’t specifically designed with your requirements in mind, this can quickly lead to frustration, which often results in users and operators of the system purposefully bypassing it by manually opening a lane to allow multiple users to pass through at peak times to avoid delays to their working day. The risk in this scenario is clear. In point 4, we discuss how your employees could be your biggest weakness, and the importance of having a security policy in place which your staff are familiar with, clearly outlining why and how security protocols should be adhered to.

Note that police often encourage those in multi-occupancy commercial buildings in particular to be on high alert, as criminals will often target premises where they can steal from numerous offices in quick succession. Securing multi-tenant office buildings brings about another set of challenges and vulnerabilities, as you may not want all people to have access to all internal areas, which leads us on to point 3…

Not securing internal doors

“When designing an entrance control system, the focus is often only on securing the main entry points, such as the lobby, reception areas, staff entrances etc.”, comments Tony. “Whilst securing these points is vital, you also need to consider adequate protection for your internal spaces, such as your data centre or HR office, which may be critical to the functioning of your organisation or house sensitive data which you wouldn’t want falling into the wrong hands.”

Having a bank of security turnstiles at the front door will prevent unknown individuals from entering the building beyond reception, but won’t prevent authorised individuals within your organisation – or approved external contractors such as service engineers or cleaners – from being able to access more sensitive areas of the facility. No matter how rigorous your background checks, a belt and braces approach is the most effective way to minimise opportunistic crime.

Fastlane Door Detective Plus door entry system entrance control security

The Fastlane Door Detective range provides an extra layer of security and detection by monitoring the throughput of internal access-controlled doorways, corridors and passageways and ensuring that the ‘one person, one door access’ rule is met. Using multiple infrared beams from enclosures mounted near the door frames, Door Detective accurately monitors movement in both directions each time a person presents their credentials to pass through the doorway. Alarms sound to identify access control violations to alert staff and, when integrated with Fastlane FastCount, real time building population data can be viewed so you can see how many people are in areas of the building at any given moment.

You can even integrate Door Detective with other access control systems, for example facial recognition technology, with authorised users having to pass multiple verification checks before being granted access.

Easy to use, this additional level of security and detection helps to prevent both unauthorised entrants and tailgating, providing building owners and tenants with the reassurance that only authorised visits are being made to designated areas.

Dishonest or tricked employees

You might have a robust, fit-for-purpose security system installed but, if your employees don’t understand its importance and aren’t clear on your security protocols, they could leave your building exposed unknowingly.

Traditionally, one major danger is ‘tailgating’ – the act of following someone through an open door or turnstile unauthorised. The follower is the one at fault, even if there is no intent to deceive or cause harm, and the person being followed may not even be aware of the act.

In contrast to innocent tailgating, ‘collusion’ is when individuals purposefully act to let someone in through a secured point who otherwise wouldn’t gain access. With collusion between those entering, the one with the approved credentials is at fault, as the intention is to bypass the security system to allow unauthorised access.

The optical beams in Fastlane turnstiles and also Door Detective units automatically detect tailgating, pass-back to another person of credentials, and even two-abreast “sidegating”. Learn more about tailgating and sidegating. There are other important differences between tailgating and staff collusion which you can read more about here.

The threat that arises through collusion involving staff should not be underestimated, including unintentional collusion, such as ‘being kind’ and letting someone they believe is harmless through a controlled access point because they “forgot their key card”. A person with malicious intent and ‘social engineering’[i] skills can cause great damage by gaining unauthorised access to a building, so it’s important that staff are trained on how to identify and deal with this kind of situation.

Training should cover things like the reasons why security measures are in place, the possible implications of unauthorised entries, how to spot possible cases of ‘social engineering’ and how to strictly follow and enforce the security policy, so that staff know how to deal with any situations which arise and aren’t tempted to unwittingly collude with an intruder.

These are just four of the most common factors which may be putting your building at risk from opportunistic passers-by. Get in touch with our team on +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email to find out how our range of entrance control products can help to protect your building.

[i] The term ‘social engineering’ means using “influence and persuasion to deceive people by convincing them that the social engineer is someone he isn’t”. As defined in The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, by William L. Simon and Kevin D. Mitnick.