Advice from Tim Booth, Leisure Vehicles Officer – NaVCIS
Challenging times can be seen by some as an opportunity to exploit others and often criminality will increase in such times. Spending some time checking your site security may prevent you from becoming victims, and the disruption this could bring to your business.
The closure of caravan parks will result in many expensive items / assets being left unchecked for extended periods. Here are some tips for park owners / operators to better protect their businesses from criminal activity while the park is closed.
Securing the perimeter
Key to managing the security of any area is the means used to define and to secure the perimeter. Such definition can be difficult when sites have public footpaths that cross the managed areas, but it is still acceptable to ‘gate’ these routes to present a physical barrier to anyone using the footpath. These pedestrian barriers should have relevant signage which shows the pedestrian that they are entering a ‘controlled’ area – where there may be:-
- CCTV in use – signage should show purpose and who operates the system etc
- Security patrols – persons entering site may be approached by security staff
- Requirement to keep to footpath / dogs must be kept on leads
Such signs are intended to show any visitor that their presence on the site will be monitored.
Where perimeters are defined by fencing, then checks should be made of that fencing to ensure it is maintained in good order; any gates should have good standard of locks fitted. Where it is possible, the locks should be manufactured into the gate (mortice type system); where padlocks are used then the locks should have a retainer cable to secure the lock body to post structure – thus preventing the lock being changed / replaced – or the lock should be colour coded to the location, again giving early indication that the lock has been changed.
Vehicle access is a necessity when the site is operational, but once closed down, the opportunity for access should be reduced as much as possible. Only the main access gate should be left with minimum – but managed – access control afforded. All other vehicle access routes should be managed by the use of substantial barriers that are not easily moved. (Consider non-motorised farming attachments / concrete drainage rings / concrete ‘tank traps’ – often referred to as
‘dragon’s teeth’ or hedgehogs).
NB Ensure that defined access routes for Emergency Vehicles are not obstructed!
As part of the regular maintenance of the site, the growth of vegetation / trees around the perimeter should be managed. The planting of ‘challenging’ plants / shrubs like berberis and pyracanthus can create more natural defences. Trees should not be allowed to branch over the site perimeter and these being cut back to prevent climbing over.
On site security
Managing the substantial numbers of homes on the site can be a real challenge and it is unrealistic to believe that daily checks of all properties can be achieved.
It is a fact that criminality would seek to look for the easiest opportunity to commit crime – so those properties near to footpaths or in more secluded areas of the sites, should be the priorities for any checks.
Establishing ‘temporary’ fences across the site can prevent unauthorised access and also give an early indication that persons have entered these areas where fence lines have been disturbed.
Gravel areas should be raked – again this can give an indication that unauthorised persons have walked across these areas.
Most sites will adopt a programme of isolating properties from electric / water supply whilst the site is closed down. Where this has not been implemented, then this should be actioned as soon as possible. (Ensure that, when isolating electricity supplies, lights intended as ‘security’ lights are not inadvertently turned off!).
Ensure that all staff only allow persons on to the site who have a lawful reason to be there. It is likely that criminals would use ‘distraction’ opportunities to suggest that they should access the site. Checks should be made of all ‘visitors’ to confirm their identify / authorisation to be on site.
Where vehicles require access to the site, then these should be checked ‘in’ and ‘out’. Drivers should be asked to allow site staff to check the contents of their vehicles when entering – and driver advised that similar checks will be made on departure. Where drivers decline to accept these conditions, then consideration should be given to preventing that vehicle from accessing the site.
It is unlikely that offenders would choose to carry out stolen property – most will look to utilise vehicles in the commission of their crimes!!
Maintaining a safe park environment during ‘close down’ will provide a good starting point for when parks are allowed to return to more normal business activity.
Berberis x stenophylla is a fast-growing evergreen variety of Berberis which is very prickly.
Red Pyracanthus is a beautiful and colourful hedge as well as being dense and spiny to stop intruders
Dragon’s teeth product
NaVCIS (Vehicle Crime Intelligence Police Service) is a national police unit that works to protect communities in the UK from vehicle finance crime and associated serious and organised crime.