A Guide to Security Patrol Systems in the UK 2023

This is the Infologue Guide to Security Patrols Systems in the UK for the year 2023. The data was collected by our partner, Interconnective Security Products who have helped us compile the below guide. This guide looks at a variety of different factors surrounding security guard patrol systems, how they work, what features they have, installation and more.

What is a security patrol system?

A security patrol system also known as a security guard tracking system, guard patrol system, guard monitoring software and or security patrol tag system, is at its core a proof of presence device. Most systems are more than that however, having become a set of tools and processes designed to enhance security and surveillance efforts by monitoring security guards as they conduct patrols or rounds in a specific area, property, or facility.

These systems employ a combination of technology and procedural measures to ensure that designated areas are properly monitored, and in many cases, incidents are recorded, and security protocols are followed.

The majority of these offerings will include a data recorder (normally a purpose-built device or mobile handset with an app installed), physical patrol tags/ checkpoints as well as an accompanying security guard tracking software. These can either be very straight forward local installations or more advanced cloud-based software platforms.

How do security patrol systems work in the UK?

There are a wide range of guard patrol systems available, but they mostly work in a similar fashion. There will be three components, the device, the checkpoints and the software.

You will have physical patrol tags around site, normally RFID like NFC tags or iButtons although some use QR Codes (QR Patrol) that are stuck up around the patrol route. These patrol tags represents checkpoints along a guard tour route or patrol. The security officer will then walk around the site, tapping (sometimes called clocking or logging) checkpoints with his patrol device. Using RFID over GPS offers guaranteed proof of presence as GPS can only approximate a location, particularly indoors. This is also why these devices are sometimes called security guard checkpoint systems.

There is more variety in the style of the patrol device than the tags. Older baton style patrol systems like the Deister and The Partner Robust are ultra-robust steel cylinders that have little functionality beyond proof of presence. These legacy devices represent the origins of security guard monitoring systems and were first released decades ago. On the more advanced end you have mobile handsets with a cloud-based app installed on to them like The Partner Online or Trackforce Valiant. Normally, they would use a ruggedized handset like a CAT phone as the Partner Online does.

Once the patrol device taps the checkpoint, it logs the date and time of the action which is either uploaded immediately for mobile devices or is stored and downloaded later in the case of the Deister-style patrol batons.

The security guard tracking software then renders the patrol data into a report and acts as proof that the security guard was patrolling when they said they were. The security wand baton style patrol devices will also come with a downloader and software that is installed on a physical PC onsite.

All the other additional features and bells and whistles available will depend on the security guard patrol tracking system that you are looking at.


What is a Deister style security guard patrol system?

In the security industry, it is not uncommon to hear security guard patrol systems referred to as Deisters. While this term is usually used for the patrol baton shaped security wand devices, it is sometimes applied to the concept of a security guard tracking systems generally.

Deister is a brand of patrol system that was an early entrant and gained significant market share. The use of this term is similar to how people in the UK call vacuum cleaners hoovers or aramid fiber body armour Kevlar. For example, The Partner Robust security patrol system is a similar design but is often called a Deister system despite being a competitor.

While the brand is not as widely available as they used to be, the term Deister has persisted, even extending to mobile handset based apps.


What are patrol tags or security guard checkpoints?

As discussed above, the vast majority of security guard patrol systems use physical RFID tags to represent points on a patrol route. While some brands offer GPS tracking in conjunction with RFID, such as the Partner Online, most with simply focus on physical tags for absolute proof of presence.

There are three broad categories in which patrol tags fall in to:

Ibuttons or Dallas Tags – These little metal clocking points are essential a metal container with a microchip in them that emits a signal. They will either be glued on to a location onsite or installed using a point mount and screwed into a surface. These security patrol tags have several names but the most common are iButtons and Dallas Tags. They generally require physical contact to transfer data and are used by the older Deister style patrol wands like the Partner Robust or Partner Utility.

NFC Tags – This type of patrol tag is far more common with the modern, app based security patrol systems. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and qualities so it is always best to get the advice of the company you bought the guard tour system from when choosing your patrol tags. There are self-adhesive versions as well as secure ones with screw-holes through the middle. One thing to remember is that if you are placing a patrol tag on a metal surface, you will need metal shielded NFC tags in order for the system to register them like The Partner Online Patrol Tags.

iBeacons – iBecaons as used far less commonly these days but are still worth mentioning. They are battery powered devices that essentially ping the mobile handset at regular intervals. This does give the added benefit of telling you how long someone was at a particular checkpoint, but it requires you to constantly ensure that the iBeacons are working and that security officers are walking close enough to register. Many security guard patrol systems still support iBeacons but they are not used very often anymore.

Another point to note patrol tags is that one version, QR Patrol, also allows you to scan QR codes instead of tapping a point. Their QR codes are also attached to RFID tags so the point is mainly academic. This is probably to do with QR codes being just as effective in photos as they are in real life meaning that officers can get scan photos of the points if they wanted.


What is a security guard tracking software?

A security guard tracking software can refer to the digital component of a security patrol system system.

For the old-style security patrol wands (or Deister), the software will be a simple application that is locally installed and connects to a downloader that pulls the data from the recorder or patrol wand and turns it in to a rudimentary report. These tend to be older software that is not normally updated anymore.

The more modern security guard tracking software suites tend to be rather extravagant things that are normally cloud based and accessed through a mobile handset. These guard tour systems will include a wide range of features that you did not have on the old systems including daily occurrence books, forms, real-time patrol monitoring, lone worker functionality, auto-generated reports and more.

These cloud-based security guard tracking software systems are usually subscription based and cannot be bought outright like the security wand, baton style security patrol systems.


Do security guard monitoring systems allow for real-time security guard tracking?

Modern security guard monitoring systems do indeed allow for real-time guard tracking. Using a mobile handset connected to the internet via WIFI or LTE, the security patrol system will normally update the server every time a security patrol tag is tapped. This means that anyone who has access to the web-portal will be able to monitor the patrols in real-time.

Its important to note that this will normally require decent WIFI or a SIM card as areas with poor signal will cause a loss in connectivity. Any security patrol system worth its salt will have record queueing (when a connection is lost it will save the records until reconnected and then start uploading) so data won’t be lost but it might hamper anyone following along in real-time.


What other features are common with security patrol systems?

As stated above, the core functionality of a security guard patrol system is proof of presence using RFID. In this respect, most patrol monitoring devices work in the same way. What varies between suppliers and brands is the additional features that comes with the system.

For the baton-style security wands, features are fairly limited. The most common is a shock sensor which will tell you if the device has been dropped or thrown around. Some devices, like The Partner Robust, will also be able to give you an idea of whether it was a small, medium or large physical impact.

The app-based security patrol systems offer a lot more flexibility and tend to have a much wider range of features. We have a small example list below:

GPS and Geofencing – Some security guard tracking systems will allows you to also use GPS as well as RFID which can be useful in determining the precise route that a security officer took when visiting each tag.

Daily Occurrence Book – Some security patrol systems will have a built-in daily occurrence book. This feature allows you to record any incidents or occurrences of note that happen on a site during the course of one’s duties.

Asset Management – While often a software suite in its own right, Asset Management is sometimes bundled with patrol monitoring systems as a feature. Normally, an asset such as a phone, keys or tools will have an NFC keyring attached which is then scanned by the security patrol system handset to be checked in and out. Depending on the software, it may also send out alerts to the people who borrowed the asset to return it once the allotted time has been exceeded.

Forms – Again, there are entire forms and reporting suites out there but decent security guard tracking software will also include this functionality. This feature allows users to customize their own forms which can be applied to wide variety of scenarios such as incident reports, safety checks, damage reports and more. Some security guard patrol systems will also email the person responsible when a form is completed depending on what type of form it is.

Tasks – Another useful feature of some security guard monitoring systems is the ability to assign tasks to users. This can either be done by sending the task to a specific device or user for them to complete such as an alarm activation or by throwing it out to all users and the person who is free to do it can accept it. Once it is assigned, they have to confirm that the task is complete in order to clear it. Some patrol monitoring systems may allow you to assign tasks to specific checkpoints. Normally, you will be unable to move on to the next point without failing the patrol unless the task is completed and checked off.

Lone Working – There is an entire industry of lone worker devices out there but more modern security guard patrol tracking systems have begun to integrate this functionality. This can include panic alarms, shock detectors, fall detectors, prone detectors, regular check-ins and idle detectors. Normally this will require the use of SIM data to ensure constant connection, particularly if used through an ARC.

Reports – The cornerstone of any security guard patrol system is reporting. Most models will have a very wide range of reports available that can be automatically or manually generated. Auto-generated reports can normally also be set to auto email at regular intervals.

MDM & Locked Down Handsets – As most modern security guard tracking software is installed on to mobile handsets, it is important to ensure that the security officers are not just flitting away the day watching videos or calling friends, particularly if you are footing the bill. Mobile Device Management (MDM) features allow you to choose what apps they can use, what numbers they can call and even control things like the volume of the phone to prevent excuses like “didn’t hear your call”. If a handset is locked down then only the security guard monitoring system will be useable.


How do I install a security patrol tag system on-site?

If you are not going to be using that requires screws, then the installation of a security patrol tag system is actually very easy. The only physical alterations that need to be made to the site are adding the patrol tags. This is normally done with an adhesive like No More Nails for the iButtons or using the self-adhesive backs for the NFC tags, if they have them.

If you are using iBeacons, secure NFC tags (ones with screw-holes) or iButton point covers, then you will need to physically screw them in to the wall. It is always best if you check with the site owner before doing so. This is still a straight forward process and does not require an engineer.

The rest of the installation can normally be done remotely with support from your security guard tracking system vendor. For the Deister style patrol wands, you will need to plug in the downloader, install the software and normally add a license to it. For the app-based security guard tracking software, as long as you received your mobile device already set up, you can start immediately setting up your site through the web portal without any further installation.

Many vendors will sell mobile handsets directly, others will not and you can use your existing mobile device. If you use your own device, many systems may require you to go through a setup process first, particularly if there are any MDM or lock down features. There may or may not be a charge for this.


What is the cost of a security patrol system?

Security Patrol Systems will vary wildly in price depending on the type of system, the vendor and the features that they offer. You will get branded items such Deister and Partner patrol systems as well as Chinese made versions such as the JWM Guard Tour System. Chinese made products will be significantly less expensive than those made in the UK. Some UK companies will rebrand JWM products to their own names and resell them with a mark-up.

There are three main heads of cost you will incur.

1.) The price of the device

2.) The cost of the security guard tracking software license

3.) The price of the security patrol tags

As a general rule of thumb, Deister style patrol wands like The Partner Robust or The Partner Utility will be one off fees with no ongoing costs or license renewals. Other patrol wands might have different payment structures, however. They tend to last a long time and with repairs can keep going for decades. If looking at that time frame, you may want to factor in repair costs as security officers tend to be less than gentle with something that resembles a metal baton.

App-based patrol systems are much more complicated to discuss costs about as there is such a variety of payment models around. Some security patrol systems will charge by handset, like The Partner Online, others will charge by module (collection of features) such as Smart Task or even per user. Per user tends to be the most expensive with per handset the least but this varies.

The patrol tags are another cost that will vary depending on the size of the site and the number of tags that will be used. Some security guard monitoring software will allow you to use the same patrol tags in multiple patrol routes which can cut down on cost. Others may require unique tags per route.

You can see some examples of various security patrol system costs here.


What type of reports can I expect from a security guard patrol system?

The types of reports that a security guard monitoring system can provide you with will depend on the focus of the system and how advanced it is. Outside of simple proof or presence, the below reports will be exclusively available with app-based patrol systems rather than the Deister style patrol wands.

Patrol Reports – These reports detail the routes taken by security guards during their patrols. They might include information about checkpoints visited, time spent at each location, and any incidents or observations made. For the security baton devices like The Partner Robust, this could be as simple as a list of checkpoints with times. For app security patrol systems like The Partner Online, this will very detailed and contain things like GPS data, tasks and more.

Incident Reports – Incident reports document any unusual or noteworthy incidents encountered during patrols. This could include issues like unauthorized access, suspicious activities, equipment malfunctions, or safety hazards. These reports provide a comprehensive account of the incident, including date, time, location, and details of the event. They are particularly useful for evidentiary and insurance purposes. Most security patrol systems will have some version of this.

Check-In/Check-Out Reports – These reports record when security personnel start and finish their shifts or patrols. They help in ensuring that guards are adhering to their schedules and responsibilities. For older systems they may use patrol points to represent staff members while modern security guard patrol systems might have comprehensive staff lists with individual logins and more.

Missed Checkpoint Reports – If a security guard fails to visit a designated checkpoint during their patrol, the system generates a missed checkpoint report. This helps supervisors identify potential gaps in patrols and address them promptly. This can also be done within patrol reports or as part of KPIs.

Maintenance Reports – Some security guard monitoring systems track the condition of security equipment, such as surveillance cameras, locks, and alarms. Maintenance reports can highlight any equipment issues that need attention. This is often covered by form or task functionality with security guards performing checks on patrols.

Activity Summary Reports – These reports provide an overview of security activities conducted during a specific time frame. They might include information on the number of patrols completed, incidents reported, and any other noteworthy activities. This is sometimes represented as KPIs on the dashboard.


Performance Reports – Performance reports assess the effectiveness of security personnel by analyzing data such as patrol completion rates, response times to incidents, and adherence to protocols. These reports help in evaluating the overall efficiency of the security team.

Compliance Reports – Compliance reports ensure that security procedures and protocols are being followed correctly. They can include information on whether guards are checking specific areas at required intervals. These are less common in most security patrol systems available in the UK these days.

Historical Reports – These reports offer insights into past patrols, incidents, and activities over a longer period. Historical data can be valuable for identifying trends, patterns, and areas that might need additional attention.


How to choose the right security patrol system for me?

Choosing the right security patrol system for your sites is entirely based on your individual needs and circumstances. It can however be useful to apply a standardised set of questions to try and understand what your needs really are. The questions below can help guide your decision making process.

What Are My Security Needs? –  What are the primary security concerns and goals of implementing a patrol system? Which areas or facilities need to be patrolled? Are there specific routes to follow? Do you require incident reporting, real-time alerts, or other specific features?

What Features Does the System Offer? – What are the key features of the system, such as checkpoint technology, real-time reporting, incident management, GPS tracking, etc.? Does the system include a user-friendly mobile app for security personnel? Can the system be customized to fit your unique requirements? Is the System User-Friendly?

How easy is it for security personnel to use the system? – Is training required and does the vendor provide said training? Does the system require any technical expertise to set up and operate? What Type of Checkpoint Technology Does It Use?

What type of technology (RFID, QR codes, NFC, etc.) is used for the guard checkpoints or patrol tags? – Will this technology be compatible with your existing infrastructure? Do you need special checkpoints like screw-hole or metal shielded NFC tags?

How Is Data Stored and Managed? – How is the data collected during patrols stored and managed? Is the data securely encrypted? What measures are in place to protect sensitive information?

Is Real-Time Monitoring Available? –  Does the security guard patrol system offer real-time monitoring of security personnel’s activities and locations? Can supervisors or management access this information remotely?

What Reporting and Analytics Are Available? – Can the system generate detailed reports on patrol activities, incidents, deviations, and more? Are there analytics features that can help identify trends or areas for improvement?

What Is the Cost Structure? – What is the initial cost of purchasing the security guard monitoring system, including hardware and software components? Are there ongoing subscription fees, maintenance costs, or additional charges? Repair costs over the lifetime of the device?

Is Customer Support Available? – What level of customer support is provided? Is it available 24/7? How quickly can you expect assistance if you encounter technical issues? Is the System Scalable? Can the system accommodate future growth or changes in your security needs? Is it easy to add new checkpoints, devices, or features to the system?

What Is the Provider’s Reputation? – Research the reputation of the system provider in terms of reliability, security, and customer satisfaction.