October 20, 2023

Crowded places such as shopping centres, offices, sporting arenas, festivals, theatres and more pose extra risks to people, as they can be a hotspot for ram raids, theft, burglaries, aggression towards staff, acts of terror and more. Everyone has a role to play in keeping crowded places safe – especially business owners and operators of crowded places. This article will give business owners and operators of crowded places a basic understanding of what protective security is, and what factors to consider when building a protective security plan.

What is protective security?

While it isn’t possible to protect everything, effective protective security allows business owners to deter, detect, delay, respond to, and recover from attacks by prioritising the highest risk areas of the crowded place.

10 factors to consider when protecting your crowded place

1. Security staff

Whether it’s an office, manufacturing plant, or music festival, your venue probably has dedicated trained security staff. Security staff can deter potential attackers by patrolling the venue, engaging with staff and visitors, conducting bag searches, screening deliveries, scanning tickets and more. Your security staff should be professionally trained and be visible in both secure and non-secure zones.

2. Staff contribution to security

As the first line of defence against suspicious activity, all staff should be trained and briefed on your security process. Best practice is to ensure your team can detect suspicious behaviour and know how to report and escalate concerns.

3. Recognising suspicious behaviour

A simple, low-cost level of security is to train your staff to identify and lookout for unusual activity or behaviour. Sometimes a phrase like “Hi, how can I be of assistance?” or “I notice you don’t have ID showing, can I help you?” can be enough to deter a would-be thief, shoplifter or robber. This is especially important to deter retail crime.

4. Preparedness for aggression and general emergencies

It’s a business owner’s responsibility to educate staff to recognise aggressive behaviour, create plans and procedures to protect employees from violence and harassment, and foster a culture of safety. The NZ Police advocate for people who are in dangerous situations to escape from the immediate danger, hide in a safe space, and tell the authorities.

5. Security around the premises

Entry and exit access points present a challenge for businesses in terms of controlling the flow of staff and visitors. Similarly, security at the perimeter can be difficult to manage too – especially if your crowded place moves (e.g. marathon, parade).

6. Physical security

Delay potential attackers and burglars from accessing your staff, customers or venue with natural (e.g. berms, trees, water) or constructed (e.g. fences, gates, turnstiles) physical barriers. Physical security is best used in addition to other security measures, such as security staff.

7. Use of technology

The better visibility you have within and outside your business, the lower risk of crime. Technology, such as good lighting with sensors, CCTV, licenser plate recognition, and facial recognition software can detect and deter people and activities that may pose a threat.

8. Preventing hostile vehicles

Hostile vehicles like the ram raid incident in an Auckland mall can cause destruction to property and endanger the lives of your customers and staff. Aside from considering how vehicles move into, within and out of your crowded place, ensure you have the right physical barriers in place to deter or delay hostile vehicles.

9. Security plans, policies and procedures

Document security plans and processes so that all staff know the risks, understand their responsibilities and the procedures they must follow. The best practice is to regularly review these documents, keep them up to date, and constantly communicate them to the workforce.

10. Keeping information secure

Valuable information takes on a variety of forms: paper, phones, computers and more. Do you know how your sensitive documents will be dealt with from creation to disposal? Ensure you have the right level of security and regularly review your information security effectiveness.

Your next steps

Protect your people, assets and property from theft, abusive customers, burglars and more. You’re now ready to build a comprehensive crowded place plan with these 10 factors. If you’ve identified worrying gaps in your security, get in touch with the Red Badge team. Our experts can help you strengthen your security with event staff and event security and guarding, as well as security guarding for your business.

For more helpful resources, check out this comprehensive self-assessment tool to prepare your crowded place, created by the NZ Police.