Cannabis – a growing problem
Don’t turn a blind eye – as a landlord you have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect and preserve the communities in which we live. Under current legislation (Misuse of Drugs Act 1971) landlords or property managers can receive a prison sentence or large fine if they allow the production of controlled drugs to take place in their accommodation. How to spot a cannabis factory:
- A strong, pungent smell coming from the building;
- Electrical wiring that has been tampered with powerful lights left on all of the time;
- Windows blacked out;
- A sudden increase in electricity bills;
- Large quantities of rubbish – bin bags full of vegetable matter.
The production of other types of drugs also takes place; most of the chemicals required to make these drugs are readily available, but it is the process involved in producing them which is extremely volatile. When a drug production has taken place it can take months for the property to be returned to its former use. How to deter drug production in your property:
- Be wary of any prospective tenant willing to pay months of rent in advance, or above the going rate, particularly in cash;
- Never accept tenants without checking references and backgrounds;
- Be suspicious if the tenant will not allow you access to the property or only allows you in small areas;
- Has the tenant asked to meet away from the property to pay rent etc.;
- Has the tenant put deadlocks or alarms on internal doors or made attempts to install fortifications on the exterior of the property.
Remember, this can happen in a property or building you rent out. What to do if you suspect a tenant of illegal drug activity:
- Record your suspicions and any vehicle details
- Contact Police on 101 (if non-emergency)
- Speak to your local Safer Neighbourhood Team in confidence
- Contact Police on 999 if a crime is taking place
Do you really need CCTV? Look at a number of ways to improve the security of your home before considering purchasing a CCTV system. However, when installed correctly and used for the right purpose, CCTV can be an effective tool. It can discourage anti-social behaviour and reduce crime because offenders don’t want to be caught on camera.
If you own the property then it is perfectly legal to install CCTV (even with recording and playback capabilities) to protect your property against intruders and trespassers. You cannot put cameras up on other people’s property without their consent. So if you do not own the property you will need the written permission to use CCTV.
If you wish to use CCTV:
- Check – with your local authority before you install a CCTV system as certain installations require planning permission.
- Positioning – decide on the most effective positioning of the camera(s) and field of view. Make sure that your CCTV camera(s) trained on your own property rather than that of your neighbours.
- Installation/Maintenance – whilst it may be possible to do this yourself, if you intend using a private company it is always a good idea to check references first to satisfy yourself they are of good character. Whilst most are reputable, there are still some who may use this unique opportunity to gain inside knowledge of your system.
- Safety – ensure your camera(s) are fitted and installed correctly, securely and safely to avoid risk to either you or other members of the public.
Whilst it is lawful for you to monitor your own property for security purposes, you should however make sure that your field of view does not extend beyond your boundaries or focused on adjacent private areas.
Cameras being deliberately trained on areas outside an individual’s property, could amount to harassment and potentially give rise to prosecution under the Public Order Act or Protection from Harassment Act.
The Human Rights Act covers our right to privacy. Article 8 of the Act entitled: “The Right to Respect for Private and Family Life, Home and Correspondence” means that your CCTV cameras should be sited so that they only observe activity on your property.
When it comes to physical and online crime prevention there are several things to consider when it comes to working with your employees. Employees are arguably the greatest asset to a business but can also be working against the businesses. In both instances it is important to consider the following:
It is important to instil good practice, potentially through the use of policies, put cyber onto the agenda!
Potential policies should include: appropriate use of the internet, use of email, regulations on downloading unapproved applications, the use of passwords.
It would also be useful for a business to stress the importance of reputation and data. Education around the Data Protection Act and other legal obligations would help to affirm the importance of handling data, especially on a computer.
When it comes to passwords, staff should be advised that they should not be written down, computers should be ‘locked’ when they are not in use and work space is kept tidy and free of confidential information. This could be contained in a Computer Usage Policy.
Staff should only have access to information that is relevant to them – consider managing access.
Something as simple as human error in opening email attachments with a virus embedded could be costly to the businesses systems. It is important to educate employees of the dangers of viruses etc.
There has been a rise in CEO Impersonation Fraud in which fake emails are sent to employees requesting an invoice to be paid and when they do so, it turns out that the CEO had not ordered this to be done.
It is important to inform employees of the physical security onsite so that if they need to implement any of the security measures, they can do so.
It is important that those members of staff who are responsible for managing security are confident in procedures etc.
Use strict visitor policies and ensure all staff help implement this.
Encourage staff to be vigilant and challenge non-employees as to their reasons for being on site.
It could be that employees are attempting to defraud the business by stealing stock, money or other assets. Disgruntled employees may be assisting others in causing harm to the business, consider access to various parts of the building.
Keep a regular check that policies and procedures are being followed.
Immobilise Property Register
What is it?
It is a free online asset register (database) of owned property. It is linked to the Police database and missing property can be flagged as lost or stolen by the account owner and it immediately updates records accessible to the Police. The database is approved and has the Secure By Design licence approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Who can use it?
It can be used by anyone to create an online record of their valuable property including business and educational establishments as it create an asset register. It is useful to everyone if property should be stolen or lost in a fire as the information can be used to aid police and provide information to insurance companies.
What can be registered?
Anything with a uniquely identifiable reference ( e.g. an IMEI number/serial number/frame number/chassis number/identifying tag). Also any property uniquely coded using UV pens, SmartWater or other DNA marking systems. Unique barcoded stickers can also be used.
How do the Police gain access?
The police have access to encrypted scanners that are used when property comes into their possession (e.g. execution of a search warrant or search on or after arrest). The scanner checks the database to see if the property is stolen and if this is the case they can contact the account holder.
How can I use it?
The rural crime project is offering the chance to registered with immobilise at their organised property marking events. The project has its own immobilise computer allowing the operator to set up an account there and then. All they need is a mobile phone or other item with a bar code. Once the account is set up an email will then be sent to the account holder allowing them to access their account and start to add property at their convenience. You can even upload photographs of property to assist in identification. The project also has a bar code scanner so property can be added to the account very quickly. This is useful where multiple items need to be added.
If you are not able to visit an event in person then go on line to www.immobilise.com where you can register and set up your account.
Marking your property is a positive way to fight crime, it can act as a deterrent, it allows you to prove ownership and helps you to identify your property easily if it is offered for sale. Marking your property also provides a means for the Police to identify stolen goods and return them to their owners.
There are a number of different ways to mark your property:
Visible Markers Permanent marker pens Waterproof paint Stencils Engraving Specialised overt marking kits available on the market such as Cremark (being used for Rural Crime property marking events)
Invisible marker UV Pens Specialised forensic kits such as SmartWater, SelectaDNA, Red Web etc. (SmartWater kits are available through Warwickshire Horse Watch and Neighbourhood Watch at discounted prices).
There are a number of different ways to mark your property:
- Permanent marker
- Waterproof paint
- Specialised overt marking kits available on the market such as Cremark (being used for Rural Crime property marking events)
- UV Pens
- Specialised forensic kits such as SmartWater, SelectaDNA, Red Web etc. (SmartWater kits are available through Warwickshire Horse Watch and Neighbourhood Watch at discounted prices).
What to Mark Your Property With:
You can put any kind of mark on your property to distinguish it from other similar items. Warwickshire Police, Warwickshire Business Watch and Neighbourhood Watch recommend using your postcode prefixed with the number of your address, i.e. 23 B78 1XX. A post code is unique to your property, which most organisations recognise and allows the goods to be identified and returned to you. Just putting a name or symbol on the property makes it identifiable, but does not provide details to the Police of who owns the property and where it came from.
It is strongly recommended that you take a photo of all your valuables and make a note of any distinguishing marks, including where and how you have property marked it. You can then print the photographs off and keep in a safe place, load onto your computer or keep on a memory stick.
By having these records if your property is stolen you will have as much information as possible to give to the Police and also pass to retailers and other organisations to help locate your property.
Commercial vehicles are being targeted by criminals
There has been a recent increase of commercial vehicle crime in this area involving theft of tools and equipment from unattended vans.
Vans are often used for work requirements and, as a result, transport a range of technical goods, tools and equipment. These items are often valuable and easily sold on by criminals.
To avoid property being stolen from your van ensure all valuable items such as tools are removed from the van overnight.
Protect your vehicle, secure tools and equipment.
Please help us tackle this crime
Take steps to reduce the chances of your vehicle being targeted.
We need to know about any suspicious activity around parked vehicles.
Please contact us with any information about what is happening in your area. Please call 101 to speak to your safer neighbourhood team. (Call 999 if you witness a crime in progress.)
Contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org to report information anonymously.
For more information, please visit our websites: www.warwickshire.police.uk ; www.westmercia.police.uk .
Tips on how to protect your vehicle
- Park your vehicle in a secure area (in a garage or behind locked gates, if possible).
- If you park it on a driveway, consider installing motion activated lighting and CCTV. Otherwise, park in a well lit, populated area.
- Where possible, empty your vehicle every night and lock your equipment way in a secure place.
- Forensic security marking kits are available to mark your property and parts on your vehicle. ‘High clearance’ vehicles are common targets for catalytic converter theft. Mark yours to deter thieves.
- Fit vehicle security equipment within your vehicle.
- Use high visibility signage to deter thieves but stating that no valuables are stored in the van overnight.
- Be aware of people acting suspiciously nearby.
Making your business safer
You can prevent crime by taking simple measures to ensure site safety and security inside and outside your business. This will help to deter criminals from attempting to gain access to your business.
Tips to consider:
When installing perimeter security, fencing is highly recommended and effective against criminals. It is important to make sure all entry points are robust and secure.
The level of security you invest in should depend on the level of risk your business is subjected to e.g. the area the business is located, age of the building and business specialism. CCTV, alarms, security lighting and naturel surveillance by employees are some of the most important security features to consider.
Alarms are an effective deterrent against criminals. They provide a useful warning.
There are a wide variety of alarms available to purchase depending on requirements and budget. A reputable alarm company will be able to advise you on options available. It is also worthwhile checking with your insurer as your premium can be reduced by taking extra security measures.
CCTV systems are an effective and useful tool for crime prevention and can help with the investigation of crime. However, careful consideration must be given to placement and management of any CCTV system.
For the system to be effective you should take the following advice:
- Make sure the camera faces towards the main doorway/entrance so you get a clear head and shoulders image of everybody entering and leaving the premises.
- Make sure there is enough light for the camera to give a proper picture.
- Place CCTV signs and public warning signs that they are being recorded around your building/s and inside reception areas.
Installing security lighting outside your business is a good deterrent for criminals. It often makes criminals feel vulnerable and observed; it should highlight high-risk areas and allow occupiers to see people approaching.
The type of lighting you require will depend on the level of risk, the geography of the area and the type of surveillance you already have in place. The most common form of lighting is passive infrared, which is activated when someone comes into its field of vision.
Car parks should be in good view; in well-lit areas that are safe to access from the buildings they serve.
Professionally installed CCTV systems and guard patrols (for larger car parks) are ideal for car park security.
Barriers are also effective.
Your building security is vital to help prevent thieves entering your premises. It is important to identify possible weak points, which can include doors, windows, delivery bays, and skylights, access hatches and ventilation grilles.
Windows on the ground floor and at the back or side of your building should be fitted with good quality window locks.
Blinds can be fitted to prevent criminals from seeing any electrical equipment, high value goods or stock inside. – Shutters and grilles can be added as additional security.
Quality doors locks for many businesses still provide the most cost effective and simple security measures. – External doors should be strong enough to withstand attack and possibility linked to an alarm.
Consider security for internal doors as well as external so you can limit access for thieves if they do happen to get in e.g. locking stationery cupboards or computer rooms when they are not in use.
One of the most important areas of security is your reception area. It is normally the first point of contact in any business so it provides the first line of defence.
- The reception area should never be left unattended during business hours.
- Every visitor entering the building should sign in and out and be issued with an identification badge or security pass.
- Ensure your reception staff are given basic security training.
- Ensure reception has an emergency alarm button.
- Install electronic or mechanically controlled doors where necessary.
- Bank daily, do not keep cash on the premises if at all possible.
- Bank at different times of the day and preferably at different branches, try not to be in a regular routine.
- If you have a safe, secure it to the floor and site it away from view.
Where to get Advice?
Many of the Advice Sheets talk about specific issues; this Advice Sheet aims to signpost you to the range of useful resources out there to help you protect your business both physically and online.
Online Crime There are an array of Government backed websites and initiatives which aim to assist individuals and businesses in increasing their knowledge of the online world and they include:
CyberAware – https://www.cyberaware.gov.uk/
Get Safe Online – https://www.getsafeonline.org/
Cyber Essentials – https://www.cyberaware.gov.uk/cyberessentials/
Traditional Crime With regards to traditional crime, Warwickshire Police have a page on their website dedicated to traditional business crime.
Warwickshire Police Initiative – Your Business Matters – https://www.warwickshire.police.uk/yourbusinessmatters
Police Designing Out Crime Officers North Warwickshire – Mark English – email@example.com
South Warwickshire – Ian King – firstname.lastname@example.org
Warwickshire County Council Business Crime Advisor – Bogdan Fironda – email@example.com
Reporting Fraud and Cyber crime If you have been or believe you have been a victim of Fraud or Cyber Crime please report it to Action Fraud. This can be done by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or calling 0300 123 2040.
Remember, if you require the assistance of the Police, the number for an emergency is 999 but in the event of a non-emergency it is 101.