In a world where unemployment is on the rise, financial institutions are in melt-down and an ever-decreasing ability of law enforcement agencies to curb crime, it is obvious that crime will escalate. Coupled to these contributors to crime are marches, protests and riots that use a mass of normally law-abiding citizens as a cover to establish a base for anarchy to flourish. The recent actions witnessed at the G20 and NATO meetings reflect this growing problem. This, in turn, creates a viable base for terrorist actions to be implemented.
Physical security is usually defined as the protection of buildings, personnel, hardware, programmes, networks, other assets and data from violent and non-violent physical actions that can cause loss (of life) or damage to a facility, company, enterprise, agency or an institution. Such violent and non-violent actions include pilfering, theft, burglary, sabotage, fire, vandalism and terrorism. But, breaching the physical security of a building or facility in order to carry out acts such as smuggling contraband, planting of false evidence, laying a bomb and so on create additional challenges to physical security.
It is in this world of growing lawlessness that Private Security Companies (PSCs) that specialise in Physical Security can play a very important role. What can be somewhat disconcerting is that there are PSCs who have no knowledge of - or experience in – providing a professional physical security service and instead rely on exploiting a potential client’s concerns.
The aim of physical security is to protect the client’s (a person, company, institution and so on) home, vehicles, buildings, offices, facilities or such like against violent and non-violent actions, including additional activities such as industrial espionage.
Unfortunately, there are those that view physical security as an irritation that needs to be implemented in order to simply “go through the motions”. Even more unfortunate is the fact that some PSCs view physical security as simply “guarding” – and the cheaper the guards, the more profit the PSC accrues.
Physical security is much like a military defensive position where every effort is made to prevent a breach into the defensive area. This requires detailed planning and is not simply a matter of guards, gates and locks, although these assets do play an invaluable role.
Developing a physical security plan for a client requires the PSC to look beyond the box and not only focus on the obvious. This can include breaking down the potential target into three distinct yet interrelated areas, all mutually-supporting, and include the:
· Area of Responsibility
· Area of Influence
· Area of Interest.
The Area of Responsibility requires the setting up of obstacles to hamper/deny and prevent any attacker from physically breaching the facility or system in order to carry out their attack. This hardening of the facility or site can include walls and electrified fences, gates and access control systems, multiple locks, restricted areas, computer programmes, trained static and roaming guards, fireproof safes, covert cameras with day/night abilities, alarms and so on.
The Area of Influence is the second line of defence of the facility or installation. This area is usually seen as covering any potential threats or access routes to the facility that lie beyond the perimeter and can include heat and motion detectors and sensors, lighting, dogs, intrusion detectors and alarms, low-light cameras, access monitoring on approaches to the facility or installation, roaming guards and so forth.
The Area of Interest lies beyond the facility or installation and requires monitoring by means of cameras or information gathering in order to provide prior warning of a pending attack.
Interlinked with this layered approach must be a method to swiftly apprehend attackers before they can succeed in their aims. This is usually done by means of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that can rapidly respond with the necessary means and force. This is another contribution a professional PSC can make to protect a client.
The aim of physical security is to both deter attackers and convince attackers that the likely threat of detection and apprehension exceeds the risk of even making the attack.
Hardening and securing a facility, home, building or area is expensive. But, if the physical security plan is professionally developed, the costs are well worth the effort. Not only does such a plan give peace of mind to the client, it adds to the overall safety and security of the work environment.