Smarter landscaping can help to keep sites secure, says Jason Petsch.
Ground maintenance is not just protecting people from falling branches and clearing tripping hazards; sensible outdoor design and landscaping can also be part of your site security strategy.
1 Maintaining sightlines and visibility
Site security can be compromised if overgrown shrubs, bushes and trees obstruct CCTV views.
When planning grounds maintenance or planting, consider these impacts and ensure you gain the full benefit of cameras. Assess the impact on sight lines, especially near access points to properties.
Also look at how you can avoid shady areas of dense foliage that can provide cover for intruders to lurk. Visibility isn't just about cameras but also about keeping sites well lit. Even though CCTV uses infrared light, well-lit spaces send a clear visual signal to deter criminals.
Plan your landscaping and lighting in tandem to avoid creating dim, shady areas.
2 Intelligent planting and landscaping
It's not practical or visually appealing to surround a property with fences, but planting shrubs and bushes can offer a good alternative.
Thorny varieties provide a prickly barrier even when tidily maintained at a low level. Just as important as keeping CCTV sight lines clear, effective planting can guarantee that anyone approaching has to do so under the eye of the cameras.
At property boundaries, it's also sensible to assess trees growing next to fences as these could provide a way to scale protective measures. A simple measure is to use gravel on drives, which makes it harder to approach a building silently.
A helpful side-effect is that gravel helps to keep rabbits and rats at bay.
3 Use natural features to limit access
Don't rely on concrete bollards - trees are an attractive and environmentally friendly way to limit vehicular access to sites.
Similarly, creating ditches and banks can be an effective way to prevent vehicles from being used in ram raid-style break-ins or to deter unwanted visitors from accessing sites (for example, travellers using car parks). Height restrictions, where appropriate, can also help in this respect.
4 But don't forget to preserve safe access when needed
Although trees can usefully obstruct, there are situations where access is needed for compliance reasons and tree care has an important role in this.
Under the Highways Act, it's vital to monitor and maintain 2.4 metres' clearance over paths and 5m over roads as well as keeping traffic signs and lights visible.
Clearing trees also matters from a fire safety perspective to guarantee access to fire engines. For example, West Yorkshire Service recommends at least 4m clearance height for high-reach fire appliances.
5 Use professional, trusted contractors
From a security perspective, it's always important to know who is on site and who has access to sites. When hiring third-party contractors, using professional organisations can provide greater assurance. Your contractor should carry out background and criminal record checks on their employees through the disclosure and barring service (DBS) process. We use either regular or enhanced DBS checks depending on the security needs of the sites that a given employee will be working on.
Another important area where professionalism delivers greater peace of mind is in the ability to know when contractors are planning to be on site and when they have been. Thanks to investments in mobile technology (and the fleet management and record-keeping demands of our high-risk winter gritting business), this is another area where safety can be guaranteed.
Using real-time insight - using mobile apps or web portals - we can locate our teams, and know what services have been delivered at what time. That transparent and predictable approach gives security staff one thing fewer to worry about.
Jason Petsch is CEO at GRITIT