01 August 2017


This month Simon Banks talks to Graeme Dow, Director of Safeguard Security Consultants. Recently Graeme assisted the Met Police as an expert in the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit burglary.

Graeme is a Board Member of the Association of Security Consultants, a Member of the Chartered Society for Forensic Science and sits on the British Standards Institute Security Committee. 

What role do Safeguard Security Consultants play in assessing crime?

For the most part we provide expert witness analysis after a successful burglary by looking at all the factors that impacted the loss. These include whether the systems were fit for purpose, correctly installed and maintained, how the intruders were able to defeat them and where human failures occurred. This could include fire alarms, access control, CCTV and remote transmission of signals. The physical aspects are also an important consideration.

You recently spoke at the NSI Summit about the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit burglary. How can an incident like this happen in such a highly regulated security industry?

This was a really interesting case to be involved in and the final report was lengthy so there were a lot of factors involved. I was looking at the electronic and human factors that caused the overall security arrangements to fail. The criminal forensics were carried out by the Met Police, so all credit for the successful apprehension should go to them.

The alarm installer was inspectorate regulated and the system did activate. However it should have activated much quicker than it did, for various reasons. The system was a “take-over” and I saw no evidence that the new company did a new formal risk assessment. Key elements of the system were defeated by the intruders who bypassed a number of detectors and CCTV cameras to reach and disable the control panel. That should not have been possible.

This was clearly a minimum Grade 4 risk premises and the remote signalling should always be the best available in these sites. The building was multi-occupational, which always presents its own problems. This could also make it easy for intruders to carry out their own risk assessment masquerading as potential customers.

Do we need to re-introduce a high security systems standard such as the veteran BS 7042?

What is needed is a holistic approach. The highest standards like BS 7042 or EN 50131 Grade 4 only work if the whole site is managed well. Hatton Garden could have been avoided through stricter operational procedures and installation of the highest levels of security available. Nobody ever got sacked for buying IBM and I’m sure the same applies to DualCom Grade 4 and all other top notch products and services. End-users need to be warned that price-led systems contain the seeds of their own destruction!

Have insurers backed away from security because of the increase in Climate (flooding) and Fire claims?

Sadly yes but it is actually a big pat on the back to the inspectorates, the industry generally and the police as it reflects the success in greatly reduced burglary levels over recent years.

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