This period has a different security risk and security threat profile. It is vitally important that businesses and properties maintain resilience and preparedness.
So why is this period different in terms of security risks and threats? Why are people and organisations more vulnerable? What should be done to minimise vulnerability? Governance does not take a holiday.
People are busy finishing those tasks that need to be completed before the holidays and at the same time sharing the goodwill and optimism for the future with colleagues and clients. It’s natural for people to be thinking of those precious few days with family and friends at home or that highly anticipated trip. It’s also a time when many people look forward to changing employment in the new year. This is a period in which thoughts and priorities may not be work focused.
Due to reduced staffing and likely reduced services and operations over this period, the workplace will appear more relaxed (especially when the bosses are on leave 😊 ). The workplace vibe changes; it’s often more relaxed.
Unfortunately, not all personnel maintain compliance with security standards and procedures. For example, it is not unusual for the bona-fides of contractors, telco techs, couriers, delivery drivers etc, to be less vigilantly checked. Assumptions about the honesty of visitors including contractors are often made during this period, after all it is a time of sharing goodwill.
Normally expected security controls and emergency response capabilities sometimes diminish over this period, often without the knowledge of management. If the holiday period requires security policies and procedures to change, this is best determined well before the period.
Oversight by security personnel can suffer during this period because they are likely to be busier or operationally challenged because of the changing situational dynamic. Should your security officers over this period not be your permanent personnel, problems and vulnerabilities not normally experienced may arise.
In particular, evening and weekends are often a blind spot to facility and other managers in terms of the effectiveness of security officers and the vulnerability of their properties. Typically, facility managers are surprised when an after-hours incident occurs or the security consultant’s audit report on after-hours security. We know this from the hundreds of security and emergency risk management reviews and audits that we have undertaken. The underlying reasons for the after-hours incidents usually astound management.
Security vulnerability changes for this period. Many organisations fail to re-align the security mindsets of personnel and their security resources. Security planners should allow for the holiday season to extend to the end of January. A checklist is a good place to commence security and emergency planning for the festive season.
Management needs to ensure their security is resilient and ready to respond to the possible adverse events as identified in assessments developed prior to the period, for the period. Security and emergency response capabilities should be reviewed to meet your business and property’s holiday period risks and operations. Maintaining the right security posture for your organisation or facility is important for this period.
Governance does not take a holiday. As well, duty of care for the protection of personnel and visitors does not take a holiday.
Here is a basic check-list that may be of assistance.
- Consulted stakeholders (such as tenants) of special events like Christmas parties on the property? (How will this impact on your security including the safety of occupants and visitors?)
- Capable and effective emergency responses?
- Contact lists of key personnel and other stakeholders reviewed?
- Conducted security risk assessment specific to this period?
- Consulted the management of your security contractor to ensure that you are satisfied that their service delivery will meet your needs and expectations?
- Has your business continuity plan been reviewed for the period?
- Will your crisis team and chief warden be available during the period?
- What is your action plan to respond to a serious security incident e.g. a terrorist attack in your precinct, city or your country?
- If your security company intends to utilise casual security officers at your property, will they be adequately site trained for your property?
- If building works are planned or Christmas parties will be held within your property, or major public events are to be held in or near your precinct, are these activities properly considered in the security, safety and emergency risk assessments for this period?
- Can the security contractor guarantee additional site-trained security officers, within the agreed timeframe, if requested? It’s a good time to revisit the service level agreement.
- In the context, for this period, have you reviewed your Security Standard Operating Procedures and Security Site Instructions to ensure relevance, accuracy and completeness?
- Does your security contractor have a welfare check procedure for security officers on site?
- Do you have a service level agreement with your security contractor to attend to and repair physical security and video surveillance systems or component failures within an agreed time frame for this period? The agreed time frame is based on your risk assessment.
- Have you conducted a performance audit on all security and emergency alarms and video surveillance cameras in very recent times?
- Are all security doors alarms audible in the security office (or as is often the case, the audible alarm is disabled in the security office because of the ‘annoyance’ factor).
- Have back-up power supplies to physical security and video surveillance systems been tested in very recent times?
- Have Christmas decorations obscured the view of any surveillance camera? A particular issue for shopping centres and venues.
- Does your security alarm monitoring company have your organisation’s updated emergency contact details for this period?
See related blog: “How Could This Happen? An Alarming Question”
- Will you have a sufficient number of trained wardens over this period in accordance with your property’s emergency plan and to effectively execute your emergency response procedures?
- If you have commercial tenants, have you checked the availability of their (trained) wardens during this period? Even wardens go on holidays. It’s time to identify and assess any foreseeable capability gaps. This includes training, mass and selective emergency notification capability and on-site incident leadership.
- Can you execute an emergency property lockdown and other emergency procedures in an effective manner within acceptable time during this period?
Note: The above list is basic and only general advice. It is not exhaustive. Professional advice needs be sought specific to each context. Your security contractors should have input into the above processes, however expert advice from independent professionals is recommended.
Update – links added 8 December 2020