The Crime Prevention Website


An untidy and uncared for yard and or car park around your business premises suggests to the potential thief or burglar that the security of the building it serves might be just as uncared for; even if that is not the case.  Likewise, signs of dereliction, wear and tear and damage to the exterior of the premises will broadcast the same message and so this has got to be put right.

Commercial premises are as different to each other has houses and modern small industrial and warehouse units tend to be located within open-planned business parks where the landlord dictates what may or may not be left out of the front of the building.  Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I am assuming that your building has its own, fenced yard that is under your control. Those occupying open-planned units can read between the lines as most of the points made will have some relevance.

Signage – Signs are good; they set rules

Clear directional signage for visitors is an essential element for your security regime, unless your business does not, or rarely has, visitors. (I once gave advice to the manufacturer of the old BT phone cards who most certainly did not wish to display the company's name on the premises, although directional signs for the rare visitor were put in place.)

Remember that signs set rules for visitors and prompt staff to challenge people who ignore them. 

Signs should be provided to:

  • Indentify pedestrian and vehicle entrances to the site
  • Direct visitors towards the building’s reception entrance and visitor car park. It might be necessary to include instructions on the one or more of these signs, such as ‘Please park your vehicle in the visitor spaces, secure your vehicle and report immediately to the reception. Thank you’
  • Deter people from entering private spaces. It is common for people found wandering around the yards of commercial buildings to say that they could not find their way to the reception due to the absence of clear signage. Clear signage goes some way to dismiss this excuse and help staff to decide upon the visitor’s legitimacy
  • Advertise the presence of  CCTV cameras or an alarm
  • Warn of danger of injury if climbing a fence (see previous chapter)
  • Warn potential thieves that the premises are permanently guarded or visited regularly by security officers throughout the night. 

If the area suffers from graffiti it would be wise to protect the signs using a replaceable or cleanable transparent cover.  Alternatively, the signs can be placed at a height to reduce the risk, but not to the detriment to the visibility of the same. Alternatively the sign could be treated with an anti-graffiti coating to allow easy removal of tags etc.

If your premises are located within a business park it may be advantageous for the landlord to erect a correctly orientated site map, although you will probably need to ensure that the landlord keeps the map regularly updated.

Business unit identification

Just as with housing it is vitally important to clearly display the street or unit number of the building in order that the place can be found easily by visitors and the emergency services. Numbers as much as 300mm tall and more, attached to the unit’s wall, are not uncommon and you may have to illuminate the number after dark to ensure it can be seen from the road.

General condition of the main building

Repair and if necessary repaint doors and window frames. Remove graffiti and keep windows clean. Clean the alarm box and if it’s an old model have your security company replace it - and make sure the alarm sounder is clearly visible from the street. For larger premises you may need to display more than one alarm box (which could be dummies), especially if there are several approach routes to your building

General tidiness of the yard

Storage of waste and materials

Litter, packaging materials, scrap metal and wooden pallets left lying around a yard not only present a poor impression of the business, but also provide material that could be stolen or used to commit criminal damage, burglary and sometimes arson.

Everything in the yard should have its place. Waste and recyclable materials should be stored in secure containers either in a secure, externally accessed store in the main building, or in a secure, roofed compound located well away from the main premises.  Bear in mind that wheeled bins can be pushed up to a building and used as a climbing aid or to start a fire.

Wheeled bins and skips with lockable lids are available for the secure storage of scrap and waste. If you have arrangements in hand with a third party to dispose of materials such as scrap metals and plastics and timber off-cuts insist that you are supplied with a securable skips.

As a general rule combustible materials should not be stored within 10 metres of a main building.  Further advice concerning standoff distances and the safe storage of materials should be sought from the appropriate fire authority.

Look out for secure enclosures certificated to LPS 1175 Security Rating 2 and higher

LPS 1175:  Specification for testing and classifying the burglary resistance of building components, strong-points, security enclosures and free standing barriers

Storage of fuel and chemicals 

Fuel used for heating, ground maintenance and plant machinery and chemicals used on the site should be stored securely and advice should be sought from the appropriate fire authority. 

Fuel tanks should be protected with an appropriate tank alarm

Temporary outbuildings

Unexpected high demand for a company’s products and services can sometimes result in the need for temporary buildings.  These buildings are often difficult to secure, but there are some measures that should be considered from the outset:

  • Use the buildings as a temporary measure as intended and make efforts to extend or build new permanent structures as soon as possible
  • Site the temporary building carefully, so not to create opportunities for crime, such as loss of site surveillance or unintended step-ups onto the main building. You may also need guidance from the fire brigade in respect to fire risk
  • Think carefully about what equipment is to be stored or used in them.  It would probably be unwise to use them to store valuable equipment and cash unless the building is certificated to a relevant security standard
  • Voids beneath these buildings should be stopped up to prevent windblown litter from collecting underneath, which could be used to start a fire. To that end, buildings constructed of non-combustible materials would be preferable
  • The buildings should be alarmed by connection with the main alarm system with its own entry route and control panel (to avoid false alarms) and additional CCTV may be useful
  • If more than one temporary building is required see if they can be linked together or positioned abutting each other to prevent the creation of voids and blind spots
  • If available, see if you can hire or purchase a temporary building that has been certificated to the security standard LPS 1175 (I was unable to find one in February 2015). In the absence of certificated temporary buildings check and compare the published specifications very carefully before making your decision
  • Your local police may employ a crime prevention specialist who can offer further advice.  If this service is not available then speak with a qualified security consultant or a master locksmith


There is no crime prevention reason why industrial or commercial premises should not include an attractive landscaping scheme within its yard area and car park. Shrubs, trees and groundcover not only provide a pleasant working environment for employees, but will also offer a living environment for wildlife and enhance the overall appearance of the built environment.

It is important, however, that care is taken to ensure that the landscaping features do not create opportunity for crime.


Ensure that trees and shrubs are maintained in order that: 

  • Branches do not overhang the public highway
  • They do not create a screen to natural surveillance from the street
  • They do not obscure critical views of the yard or car park from the main building
  • They do not provide opportunities to climb fences, walls or buildings
  • They do not provide potential hiding places
  • They do not obscure CCTV cameras
  • They do not obscure light sources or cast dark shadows

Enhancing the landscape

If you are considering an enhancement of the landscape around your building you might wish to consider the following paragraphs:

Spiny or thorny shrubs and trees have been used to prevent graffiti, access to buildings and loitering and to create or enhance perimeter security.

For example, open branched and columnar trees can be used where natural and formal surveillance is required. Climbing plants can be used to cover walls that have been used as canvases for graffiti and carefully selected trees and shrubs can be used to soften the most hostile of environments providing both horizontal and vertical interest without adding to crime risks.

Ideally, plant growth above 1m and below 2m should be avoided as it is generally advantageous to preserve a window of surveillance. In car parks the height of shrubs planted should be limited to around 500mm between parking bays to avoid vehicle interference. This being said, there is no reason why you should not include a number of feature shrubs and trees in your landscaping scheme, so long as a good level of natural and formal surveillance is maintained and the bulleted points above are avoided.

Defensive hedging has already been mentioned above under boundaries, but gets a mention again here, because they need to be kept regularly trimmed.  Your hedge may have been planted in conjunction with a railing, something quite popular during the 1970s and 80s. If this is the case then you should keep the hedge trimmed to below the level of the fence or to a maximum height of about 1m. This is to ensure that natural surveillance over your premises from the street is maintained.

If you are planning a new landscaping scheme I recommend you employ the services of a qualified landscape architect. Landscape architects will have the know-how and be able to select the very best trees and shrubs for your local environment and ensure that the selection requires the minimum of maintenance.

Useful link: The Landscape Institute

The Landscape Institute is the Royal Chartered institute for landscape architects, which maintains a Directory of Registered Practices.

More information about defensible trees and shrubs can be found on this website here: Defensive plants, shrubs and trees (shrub fences)

External furniture

Commercial premises with large grounds may include facilities such as benches and tables for employees to use during breaks.  Ensure these are fixed into the ground and are well away from the buildings so that they cannot be stolen or used by burglars as a tool or climbing aid.

The contents of a litterbin can be used to start a fire and so should be regularly emptied and be of a type that can be locked onto a secured base. Avoid placing these bins close to a building.

Utility services

Access to service pits containing electricity cables and telephones lines must be adequately protected with lockable and secure access covers as the ability of the security or fire alarm to signal an alarm receiving centre could be compromised.

Look for access covers that are certificated to LPS 1175: Security Rating 3 or 4

LPS 1175:  Specification for testing and classifying the burglary resistance of building components, strong-points, security enclosures and free standing barriers

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