The British Security Industry Association (BSIA)’s Vacant Property Protection Group, a group formed of members of the BSIA’s Security Guarding, Security Systems and newly-named Property and Asset Protection Section, has recently released its official Code of Practice.
The group, which was officially launched in May 2013, consists of businesses that provide security measures and services introduced when a property is at an increased risk of criminal attack as a result of a change of circumstances in its occupancy.
The new code provides guidelines for the provision of security for vacant properties, the nature of which varies considerably according to the type and condition of property and might include manned guarding, monitoring or patrols, physical barriers, materials, structures or electronic devices.
A typical vacant property is a building that has been occupied but is temporarily not in use prior to its owner or tenant moving in. Properties can become vacant for a number of reasons, including refurbishments or developments, vacancy following damage, temporary or long term unoccupancy or if the building is derelict or awaiting demolition. As such, these buildings can be at greater risk of arson, burglary, vandalism and other crimes as criminals are aware that the building may not be protected in the usual way.
The contents of the code recommends good practice that companies should follow if they provide services relating to the protection of vacant properties. Customers are recommended to use providers that follow the code, providing assurance that they are sourcing their products and services from a reputable supplier.
Subjects covered in the new code include the vetting of staff, health and safety, the care of plant and equipment, training, risk management, operational considerations, inspections, access management and site maintenance.
The group’s aim is that the document will become a standard that companies can be audited and inspected against as proof of their competence and quality, and work will progress over the next year in order to see this through.
Simon Alderson, Chairman of the Vacant Property Protection Group and Commercial Director for BSIA member Vacant Property Specialists (VPS), comments: “I am very pleased that this Code of Practice is being published to provide guidance on best practice for assessing, protecting and managing vacant property. It has been written and designed by members of the BSIA who have decades of experience working with landlords and estate managers in caring for empty properties.”
The group are also planning to produce separate guidance that will advise on the technical requirements of physical aspects of protection, such as how to fix shuttering and what type of shutter is best to use, and will be produced over the course of the next few months.