Residential Security Risk Assessment

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Every individual has the right to safety. Along with this, is the right to protect him/herself effectively from harm, by any means, as long as those actions used may be justifiable and excusable by law. This is all very well and good, but what needs to be taken into consideration in South Africa today is that the average criminal doesn't care how much destruction he causes in order to get what he wants, thus, even your life is considered worthless against the value of your cash, jewellery or cell phone.

The incidence of residential break-ins, with and without resultant violent assault has grown to mammoth proportion in our nation and the police force cannot possibly cope with the influx. Thus, it is up to the individual to maintain a state of preparedness.

The propensity of many, in an attempt to ensure their family’s security has been to purchase property within walled and security controlled complexes. However, this has also proven to be somewhat risky, as criminal syndicates can often afford to purchase property within these complexes and they literally prey on their complacent neighbours.

This is the reason as to why each household, whether in a complex or not, should invest in a security risk assessment.

The security risk assessment helps to identify those areas in your home or property that are vulnerable to break-in or attack and should therefore be protected. The assessment also assists in the determination of which security controls need to be used and the type of security system that will best suit your needs.

Not all persons in South Africa can afford complex security equipment; however, by doing a complete security risk assessment and following a logical chain of thought, anyone can have a degree of protection.

So, what are these controls? Imagine if you will that your total security system takes the form of an onion. Onions, just as security, consists of layers and this is where your security controls find their value.

Firstly, we have the Preventative Control. Preventative security controls can be divided into two layers. These layers include deterrence and access prevention. Most households already have these in place to a lesser or greater degree as most homes have a perimeter fence or wall, burglar bars, security gates (access prevention) and many have a dog or two (deterrence). Just a note on deterrence, the advertising board of your security or armed reaction company will not deter the would be assailant from entering your premises as they have done their homework on these companies and often know where these vehicles respond from and what the average response time is.

By adding barbed/razor wire, spikes or electrified fencing to the top of your wall or fence, you are increasing your preventative controls as they often act as both deterrents as well as prevent access to an extent.

Secondly, because we know that no wall, fence or security gate is totally impregnable, we need to have our second control in place. This control is the Detective Control. Detective controls identify that something is amiss and alarm us of this abnormality. Detective controls can take many forms, but to give a few common examples we look at CCTV cameras either linked to a digital video recorder or linked to a monitor, movement sensors connected to an alarm, lights connected to movement sensors. Other common detective controls also include dogs or a very vigilant neighbourhood watch.

The third control is called the Corrective Control. Corrective controls are those controls designed to lessen the damage when the preventative controls have been breached and the detective controls have reported that breach. Corrective controls include examples such as armed response, neighbour response and self-defence, either armed or unarmed.

The best advice that I can offer is to get an objective assessment from a professional who is trained in assessing vulnerability and then take this assessment to a reputable installer or security company for a quotation.

If you wish to get an objective security risk assessment, please feel free to contact Andy Lawler at Sentinel Risk Management by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +27 (0)82 953 1594.

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