Alarm Response – Hardening the target by Rollo Davies

Adding Value to your duties, getting noticed and keeping it interesting…

As a Mobile Patrol or Response Officer, you will increasingly tend to end up being sent to deal with issues that would have been the domain of the Police, in better times.

Intruder alarms at high risk properties, anti social behaviour or trespass on client’s property, even dealing with reports of suspicious persons on or near a contract that your company looks after. This all takes some load off of our law enforcement officials, but there is so much more we can do to not only provide useful intelligence and in so doing assist with crime prevention, but also to enhance the service we provide to our paying clients, and even help encourage new business for our employers.

Whatever issues you may have with your employer, and we all have them, it is a universal truth that if a company does well, then there is a far better chance of that success filtering down to the pay of the men and women at the coal face, especially if that income is proactively generated, as a result of your actions!

Never forget that YOUR SAFETY is your first priority. We will look at this in much more detail in the next issue. These days this tends to be called, performing a “dynamic risk assessment”. Basically it means keeping your eyes and ears open, and if you suspect a problem, don’t go in. Let your control room know what’s going on, and call the Police for assistance…

So, you have your list of sites to patrol and lock or unlock and there is never any problem. You always deal with alarm activation’s fully and without incident…..

Then what am I talking about?

It is ALL ABOUT, observation, attention to detail and reporting promptly and to the right people, the issues you come across.

Consider this:

You arrive at a large office block to perform a routine lock up of site.

  • As you get out of your vehicle you notice 2 males, of middle eastern appearance, 60 yards away, photographing the front of the building and the access road. When they see you, the cameras are put away and they drive off in an old van with the rear door windows blacked out and the number plate too dirty to make out.
  • You notice that there is some fresh graffiti on the building’s external rubbish bin store.
  • The padlock to their car park entry gate has been broken and is laying in pieces on the ground.
  • An expensive looking mountain bike is laying unattended in the bushes opposite the building.
  • A local vagrant, you have seen many times, wanders towards you. You think he’s going to ask for money so you ignore him and hurry in to the building.
  • Once in the building you notice that someone has ‘carelessly’ left their rolled up plaster in the lock receiver on the rear fire exit door, preventing it from closing properly.
  • You notice a discarded USB memory stick on the floor in the lobby, so you leave it on the reception desk for staff to deal with in the morning.
  • While checking the toilets you find a lump of chewing gum blocking a wash basin on the second floor.
  • You notice and overgrown bush that is now obscuring a CCTV camera looking at the staff car park.
  • You find a bookcase that has carelessly been move during the day and obscures a Fire Exit door.

You can lock the building, as required by your employer, and not report, or even give much thought to any of the issues I have just mentioned, You’d have done your job…..

But Stop. Think. Take another perspective:

You arrive at a large office block to perform a routine lock up of site.

  • As you get out of your vehicle you notice 2 males, of middle eastern appearance, 60 yards away, photographing the front of the building and the access road. When they see you the cameras are put away and they drive off in an old van with the rear door windows blacked out and the number plate too dirty to make out. You inform the Police of this suspicious behaviour, and are informed subsequently, that arrests have been made in connection with possible terrorism offences!
  • You notice that there is some fresh graffiti on the building’s external rubbish bin store. You inform the client who requests a static guard be employed from your company for several nights, who catches a group of 4 youths who were attempting to “Tag” the entire side of the building, which would have caused extensive damage.
  • The padlock to their car park entry gate has been broken and is laying in pieces on the ground. You replace this padlock with a spare you had in your van, inform the client, and are told that overnight, a convoy of travellers arrived and attempted to set up camp in the customer car park but were unable to gain entry due to the strength of the new padlock you had fitted!
  • An expensive looking mountain bike is laying unattended in the bushes opposite the building. You report this to the Police. Police removed the bike before it dissapeared once more and you discover that it belonged to a local girl and was an 18th Birthday present from her parents, stolen earlier that day, possibly by a suspect that fled when you pulled up to lock your client’s building.
  • A local vagrant, you have seen many times, wanders towards you. You think he’s going to ask for money so you ignore him and hurry in to the building. Actually, you have bought this man a cup of tea in the past as he is just an ex serviceman down on his luck, and he wanted to tell you that he had found an access pass to the building that a member of staff had clearly dropped earlier. You returned the pass to the reception, with an explanation.
  • Once in the building you notice that someone has carelessly left their rolled up plaster in the lock receiver on the rear fire exit door, preventing it from closing properly. That wasn’t an accident. You remove it and fully secure the door. You then fully report it. The client reviewed their CCTV and found that a member of staff had deliberately left this door insecure as they were working with a local gang that burgled premises and stole server equipment throughout the area!
  • You notice a discarded USB memory stick on the floor in the lobby, so you leave it on the reception desk for staff to deal with in the morning. Being aware of industrial espionage and cyber crime techniques you seal this drive in an envelope with big black lettering on the front stating “FOUND DISCARDED IN LOBBY. CONCERNED MAY BE LOADED WITH MALWARE / BACKDOOR ACCESS SOFTWARE. PLEASE DESTROY OR EXAMINE ON AIR GAPPED SYSTEM!.”
  • While checking the toilets you find a lump of chewing gum blocking a wash basin on the second floor. You didn’t notice at the time but one of the basin taps was dripping. An issue that got worse overnight. If you hadn’t removed and disposed of that chewing gum the basin would have overflowed and the resulting water would have seeped through the ceiling to the Server Room directly below, putting the entire company out of action for several days while vital data is recovered from off site back up systems.
  • You notice an overgrown bush that is now obscuring a CCTV camera looking at the staff car park. You reported the issue and the client facilities team had the bush removed. Thanks to you, there was clear CCTV footage of and attempted car jacking that took place a week later, which provided Police with information leading to the arrest and prosecution of 2 suspects.
  • You find a bookcase on the second floor, that has carelessly been move during the day and obscures a Fire Exit door. You complied with your legal obligations and, as it wasn’t too heavy, were able to move this bookcase 6ft out of the way of the exit, which the Fire Brigade later stated, was the “main escape route” for staff, when electrical wiring beneath the floor on the second floor, caught fire a month later, causing extensive damage, but no casualties!

These are just examples. In isolation they are all pretty minor issues, unless you think of the possible outcomes of failing to deal with them. They won’t be found on one single site, hopefully, but I guarantee you, that I have encountered every single point I have just outlined, and much, much worse. So adjust your thinking……

 You can get away with not reporting any of this as it probably wasn’t your job, and you wouldn’t have been expected to see any of it. Most won’t bother anyway.

But if YOU want to make a name for yourself as the department professional, with multiple client and Police, good work reports to your name, THIS is how you need to think. Treat every site and task as if there is already a problem and actively look for it! You’ll be surprised how many times issues become apparent.

It took me years to fully understand just how genuinely important our seemingly, sometimes, dull and repetitive job can be.

Please learn from my mistakes and experience, and be sure of these 2 things:

  1. The day you cut corners and miss something out, is the day there is a disaster that you could have prevented! Years of good work can go straight out of the window when you miss a single problem.
  2. When you sweat the “small stuff” and report things that really don’t seem to be a big deal, you’ll find that somewhere down the line, your seemingly small actions will have saved a company from a big disaster…..

These are both points that all experienced, professional, mobile response officers will confirm in a heartbeat.

The bottom line? If in doubt, report it

Be Safe…

Rollo Davies

Rollo Davies
Rollo Davies