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Despite shocking world-wide trends in the incidence of crime, many folks still have a very oblique view of what security is all about. Many families believe that putting in an alarm, with or without armed response, with a sign out front advertising the security installer involved, is enough to prevent crime occurring at their address.

It is alarming as to the amount of people I have spoken to in the past who state that they have armed response, so if they do get broken into, then it is the fault of their security company or their nation’s law-enforcement. However, what they are not taking into consideration is that both armed response and the police are both reactionary forces and cannot possibly be at all places where crime is being committed at all times.

Armed response and the police should be viewed as one leg of a family/company’s security plan, not the crutch on which our total security rests. The best security weapon we possess is our own mindset and in honing this weapon to concentrate on our vulnerability, we will be in a better position to counteract our security threats.

We are living in a world where trust is at a premium and the only way to rest assured that we cover all our vulnerabilities, is to create a security plan for our homes and businesses. This may sound like a sales pitch, but there are a number of reasons as to why it is not advisable to create your own security plan without assistance. This becomes evident when we have a closer look at the steps generally followed in security planning, but needless to say, the untrained eye would fail to recognize all vulnerabilities and the untrained person would fail to employ the most effective countermeasures.

The first step is to do what we call a “TRVA”, this stands for a Threat, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. This assessment identifies what needs to be protected (Assets, property or people), the nature of the threat to the assets, property or people, the risks which could exacerbate into events negatively affecting the asset, property or person and the vulnerabilities which allow these threats and risks to realize. What also needs to be kept in mind when doing a TRVA, however, are the constraints put on the eventual security solution by the client, whether forced or voluntary, such as legal constraints, cultural constraints, operational constraints and especially budgetary constraints.

As previously stated, it is advisable to invest in a security assessor to carry out the TRVA for you, as an experienced assessor enters your premises with a critical eye, is not used to seeing the same landscape every day and thus will notice risks easier. Furthermore, he/she will have had prior experience with assessments and will know where to look for vulnerability and risk.

An assessor will look at all aspects of your security and not concentrate on only one aspect of protection. Ie. A camera installer will look at your premises with the intention of putting up cameras at all the vulnerable areas. As this is how he generates his income, you may find yourself subjected to one who tries to sell you as many cameras as he can get away with and also sell you the most expensive product within his available range. (Not that all camera installers will do this, but I have been subjected to some over the years) Similarly, you may have the same propensity with guarding companies and barrier installers. The assessor will look at your premises like an onion, with various layers starting with the community around you and ending in the very core of your home/office.

The assessor will then assist you in the second step in the planning process which is where you draw up a security program design. He will take your risks and vulnerabilities into consideration and design layered protection. Ie. The assessor will have a look, firstly, at the access to and through your outer barriers. Looking at your preventative measures to keep unauthorized persons away and out as well as your detective measures which warn you when unwarranted action is taking place. These could include cameras, beams, electrified/alarmed fences etc. he will look at your lighting situation and as to how your existing camera equipment or your proposed camera equipment will adapt to the lighting both natural and artificial. He will also look at shadows and vulnerable hiding places, such as trees and bushes.

As part of the security program design, the assessor will also look at your physical structure, with the eye on maintaining a balance between safety and security. (It is one thing having barriers and security gates around your sensitive areas, such as bedrooms or offices, but can your family or employees escape a fire should one occur?)

One of the main advantages of having an experienced assessor is that he/she would be able to assist you with the third phase, which is to implement the advice given and put the approved solution in place. Assessors generally have reasonably good contacts within each installation field which he/she could recommend, leaving the final decision to the client.

The fourth stage is also one that the assessor would be in a position to facilitate, which is to ensure that solutions to the various threats, vulnerabilities and risks are carried out properly and neatly and that they are indeed cost-effective.

In the end, if the client and the assessor can agree that the measures in place deter, deny, detect or delay the commission of a crime and assist the client to respond effectively to and recover from untoward events, then the small cost in hiring an assessor, becomes worth it.

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