The UK construction industry is a multi-million pound industry – and that’s just its losses! Seriously, latest statistics from insurer Allianz Cornhill recently revealed that theft alone costs the industry £800M a year. So how is this a concern for the industry and the communities they serve?
So What’s the Threat?
As such, the construction industry currently struggles significantly with lost costs through both theft and vandalism. Theft of vehicles and machinery is common, whilst construction sites are also a popular target for the theft of metals – with over 7,000 metal-related thefts recorded per month.
Tightening the Security
Despite moves by the government to make it more difficult for criminals to sell on stolen metals, through new legislation prohibiting anonymous sales of metal for cash, metal theft is a growing concern, along with plant theft.
Even though heavy plant machinery includes distinctive vehicles, plant vehicles have less than a 10% recovery rate following theft, largely due to identification and appropriate registration issues. The government’s Plant Theft Action Group has been set up to help unify methods for identifying owned and stolen plant, which is helpful but not necessarily preventative.
Safe Site Facilities, nationwide construction and building site security experts, recommend the following preventative actions to protect sites against theft, vandalism and arson.
- Creating and implementing company policies and strategies relating explicitly to plant security (to minimise physical, as well as insurance and time-loss costs).
- Staff awareness training in plant security and the implementation of stringent working practices which secure on-site vehicles but also allow for efficiency.
- Plant identification – including marking and registration.
- Controlled entry and exit systems.
- Investment in wider security, including physical and electronic locking and immobilisation devices, as well as prevention and deterrents such as CCTV.
Swapping the Reward: from Criminal to Community
One of the final, but biggest factors in helping to maintain secure sites successfully is by enlisting the assistance of local communities in protecting the sites, through:
- Erecting signs asking the community to report suspicious activity and anti-social behaviour.
- Utilizing CCTV which also affords additional security to business and households in the vicinity of the construction site.
- Offering rewards for information following break-in and vandalism.
Any and all of these methods strive to help to make site security more rewarding for the community than for the criminals. For example, a local company in Medway have offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to justice for criminals who damaged and stole expensive site equipment, including writing off a £20,000 JCB by driving it off a cliff, narrowly missing local properties. Such criminal behaviour around heavy plant machinery puts local communities as well as the industry at risk and by implementing such rewards and enlisting the help of local communities contractors can hope to demonstrate their willingness to work with locals in a bid to reduce criminal activity in the area as a whole, as well as on their own sites.