BUSINESS FORCE MAGAZINE - Edition 1

BUSINESS

RCE F FEDERATION OF REGIONAL CRIME ENFORCEMENT Edition.1

PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR CUSTOMERS,YOUR INTEGRITY

Rogue Traders

The scourge of small businesses and their customers, but you don’t have to be a victim.

Vehicle and Tool security

Losing your transport and the tools of your trade can spell the end for a sole trader. Here’s how to look after your most important assets.

Retail Crime

From shoplifting to attacks on staff, here’s some advice on looking after your property, staff and stock.

Site Security

Turning a soft target into a fortress!

Cyber Crime

Think it only affects large businesses? Read this and think again!

FORCE

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Y ou’ve seen the TV programs and read the news stories about rogue traders, but does this mean you know enough not to fall victim to one? Can you honestly say that you know the danger signs? As in most things, prevention is better than cure so we are delighted in this issue of FORCE magazine, to offer guidance on how to avoid using a trader that will leave you out of pocket, with a poorly repaired or renovated property which could even be a death trap. You will find advertisers in the pages of FORCE that will offer the services of a skilled professional that you can trust. Home Improvement is of course a great way of expanding on your investment, and by no means should you be put off using a professional – you just need

to know how to identify one and even then, what steps to take to ensure you get a good job, at the right price and to the satisfaction of both you and the firm you use. And for honest businesses the threat of being a crime victim is a constant threat to the ability to run a profitable business. The theft of tools, vehicles, stock and the threat to staff is something that can be the difference between success and failure. We are equally happy to share some great advice on how the business community can take stock of their crime prevention measures and make life as difficult as possible for those that seek to undermine their livelihood. Enjoy FORCE magazine, take heed of the advice offered and thank you for helping us to be a force for good.

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ROGUE TRADERS

R ogue traders, cowboy builders, confidence tricksters...Irrespective of the phrase we use to describe them, the actions of these so called tradespeople are far reaching and devastating on a number of levels. The victims of these criminals extend from the customers that have fallen prey to their scams, to the reputation of an entire sector – making the already challenging economy an even more difficult place for those respectable tradespeople that do an honest and proper job.

In this, the inaugural issue of FORCE magazine, we are going to deal with the issue, and present advice and guidance that will be distributed extensively to make thousands more people aware of the extent and nature of this criminal activity. The end result will be not only to make life harder for the criminals, but also easier for the honest, industrious businesses in the UK; helping consumers to identify not only the fraudsters, but also the credentials of the tradespeople that are safe to use.

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It doesn’t end there. We are extending our net to expose not only those in the allied trades, but also the many other sectors that are damaged on a daily basis by the actions of those responsible for dishonest business practices. Through our multi media approach incorporating social media, print and our App, we intend to do all we can to minimise the threat from these crimes and their perpetrators. In a perfect world we would put a stop to it altogether; but as we all know, life is never that straightforward. What we do know, is that with the support of our

advertisers, readership and supporters, this is going to be a bad year for the con men and women that we are targeting, and a much better year for honest businesses and their customers. Although there are rogue traders present in almost all sectors of business, FORCE will begin our focus on one of the more prevalent and potentially dangerous types of rogue traders – those involved in the building and construction sector. As the cost of living continues to rise, home improvement can be an effective way of adding value to our biggest

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investment. Keeping costs as low as possible makes for a bigger return long term, but the temptation of cheaper work can sometimes prove to be fool’s gold. Cold Callers Rogue traders with some knowledge of the construction trade will drive around looking for opportunities to con people. Bereft of morals, they know that they will have more success by targeting elderly people who live alone, and will often use reconnaissance and patience to identify the most vulnerable people. Rogue traders are known to be particularly active in the aftermath of severe weather, knowing that storm damage will be recent and in need of repair. If they pass a property with some kind of minor structural damage this will be their chance to strike, cold calling at the property and offering immediate repairs. These are often unnecessary, poorly carried out and overpriced. There have been instances where elderly people have been conned out of their life savings by these practices. What to do if you receive a call Cold calling isn’t illegal, but if you have a sign or sticker on your door clearly stating that you have no desire to be cold called, and the caller ignores this, then they may be committing a criminal offence. Similarly, if a trader ignores your request to leave and not return they will be committing a criminal

offence. So if you wish to make your preferences clear and help to avoid an amount of unwanted callers then a good starting point is to use the FORCE sticker/poster on your front door. As part of our commitment to crime prevention we provide these free of charge for the community. At FORCE, our advice is not to deal with cold callers at all, but even if you have contacted a trader for a quote and invited them to your home with a view to work being carried out, you can do some research before they arrive to make sure you have chosen wisely! Sourcing a Reliable Worker Word of Mouth Spending time doing some research before you give a firm the job is probably the wisest move you can make. Some people will be able to refer to friends and family for recommendations, so if you know and trust someone that has had work carried out then ask them about the quality of the work, how reliable the worker was and how cost effective they were. If you know someone connected to the construction trade, maybe a

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Membership of a trade association is long recognised as a solid starting point when seeking a reputable firm. In order to be accredited, members will often need to have been trading for aminimum period of time, and have passed an independent inspection. This inspection will include such things as evidence of having public and employers’ liability insurance, and providing valid credit and director checks. Membership of a trade body is not always compulsory, trade association accreditation

property developer or architect, then ask if they have a reputable builder that they turn to. Online For added peace of mind, do some online research, but a word of caution - the internet can be a minefield when it comes to reviews! Just because someone on social media recommends someone you need to ask yourself how well you know this person. An apparently solid online reputation is not enough in itself so remember the importance of finding out more about their workmanship from people with direct experience of it. The Trustmark scheme is a Government endorsed standards scheme for trades in and around the home, with businesses being vettedby independent inspectors.

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but you should ask yourself why a trader would be reluctant to do so. Once you have located what you believe to be a reputable firm, you will still need to be vigilant when they come to price the job. Pricing Does the trader offer a very cheap quote or estimate? Although everyone loves to save money and wants a competitive quote, you may only know how realistic the price is by getting a number of quotes so that you can compare them. Without these comparisons, you may not know whether you are dealing with someone experienced enough to provide accurate figures. Rogue traders will often provide a low estimate in order to gain the work, knowing that it will be substandard, or they may have a number of reasons at the end of the job as to why the final cost is far higher than the initial estimate. Similarly, they may be reluctant to put the quote or estimate in writing which is often an indication that they do not intend to adhere to it. Never accept a figure verbally! VAT Not all traders will be VAT registered – it can depend on the size of the firm, how long they have been in business and what their turnover is. If they are avoiding paying VAT when they should, then they are basically stealing from HMRC. Ask yourself if it is worth saving a bit of money to be working with

someone who is dishonest and breaking the law. On the other hand, a typical rogue trader trick is to charge VAT when they are not VAT registered in order to bump up the price of the job, or even to ignore the subject until the work is completed and then add 20% to the final cost to cover VAT! References A good reputation for professional and quality work is something that honest traders are rightly proud of and work hard to achieve and maintain. Any reputable and honest trader will be more than happy to provide references for their work and if they don’t then steer clear! You should also be sure to check references and make contact with the referees to ensure that the references are genuine and accurate. Questions to ask a referee could be: • What were they like to work with? – Were they polite, courteous, punctual and respectful of the property. • Was the work undertaken to a high standard? • Did the trader complete the job in accordance to an agreed time and budget? • Would they be happy to use them again in future? The Company Gain the details of their business – you should be looking for a registered company address, a landline telephone number (call it!) website (visit it!) If they

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are claiming to be in a trade association then make a call to the organisation to confirm authenticity. Many rogue traders will present a professional looking business card or company stationery that incorporate false numbers, websites and accreditation on the basis that many people will not check it. Some will even copy the logo and details of a well known and established firm to which they have no attachment whatsoever – call the company and make sure, but rather than using the number on the paperwork or business card, get the number from the telephone directory. It isn’t unheard of for rogue traders to have an accomplice answering given numbers to “confirm” the validity of their partner in crime! the contract An honest trader will have no hesitation in offering a contract and it is of the utmost importance to have one in place. Some people are even reluctant to ask for a contract for fear of offending the trader - believe us when we tell you that a handshake or someone claiming to be “good for their word” will do you no good if things go wrong. Even if the trader has been recommended by a mutual friend there still needs to be a

formal written agreement in place – this is not only for your benefit but also for the trader which is the reason all good traders will insist on one. The actual contract itself should include basics such as start and finish dates, payment method, the nature of the job and what the payment includes and most importantly, the agreed price and a breakdown of what it covers. The bottom line is that in the event of a dispute, all parties need to have written evidence to support their case. Oh and finally, make sure that when the contract is given to the trader, they sign it! The Payment The details of your agreement regarding payment should be included in the contract. As a rule of thumb, it can be a warning sign when a trader asks for payment in advance, however this can depend on the size and nature of the work being carried out. For a large project, you need to be conscious that whilst rogue traders are a problem, many honest traders also experience “rogue clients” and will require an agreed payment schedule. Most reputable traders will have credit accounts with their merchants, but any bespoke work may require payment. If possible, avoid cash payments, most of the jobs you will need to use a trader for will cost over £100. As a result it’s a really good idea to pay using your credit card, as should anything go wrong, you

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benefit from Section 75 protection – in other words, your credit card provider becomes equally liable with the trader. Typical rogue trader tricks to get money out of you include: • Asking for payment in full up front • Offering you a “discounted” price if you pay up front • Asking for a payment up front for “materials” without explaining further. You’ve Fallen Victim – What next? Ostensibly there are two types of rogue trader – there are the kind that will take your money and vanish, either with or without doing any work, which if they did was of a low standard; or the type that will do a substandard job and then deny responsibility or refunds. For the former, this type of thief can simply vanish into another town, city or county leaving no forwarding details or trace. You should notify the police and trading standards immediately, any information you have that will increase the chances of them being caught may save many others from the same misery. In the event that the trader is still around but has blatantly breached the agreement you had with them there are a number of things that you can do. The first step is to make contact with the trader directly to let them know your grievance. This should be done promptly to give them the opportunity to fix the problem, and also because if you neglected to raise an issue at the time, it could be argued by the trader that you

had found the work to be acceptable. A template letter of complaint is available on the FORCE website. If this yields no results then you need to report them. Reporting a Rogue Trader If the trader was a member of a trade association then you need to let the organisation know. Unfortunately, in most instances a rogue trader would not have made the grade to join a trade association in the first place. As mentioned earlier, if you have been blatantly scammed then the police will need to be involved, but you do need to notify Trading Standards. Trading Standards exist to protect the rights of consumers and ensure that businesses work within the law and provide the services and standards they claim to. a fatal mistake It isn’t just our bank accounts that can suffer at the hands of a rogue trader. Those presenting themselves as proficient in certain trades when they are not can end up leaving you on the receiving end of more than an empty wallet. Everyone should be aware of the extent of rogue traders carrying out work

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for which they are not qualified which in some areas can lead to a danger of loss of life. Although a rogue painter and decorator may leave you out of pocket and with an unsightly living room, using a rogue electrician or gas fitter could kill you and your family. If you are employing the use of an electrician then it is absolutely essential that you are using a fully trained and qualified trader. When we employ an electrician to work on our property, we usually take it as a given that they have the requisite skills to do their job in a manner that would never leave their customer exposed to a risk of death. This assumption could prove to be a deadly mistake so Force magazine would like to ensure that all of our readership are aware of the importance of checking the credentials of an electrician. The Electrical Safety Council recently revealed that there are some 20,000 non-registered electricians operating in the UK and that people are actively using them without checking their credentials. Further investigation has shown a third of people have hired someone to carry out electrical work on their house or workplace based on a the recommendation of a friend, without verifying their ability to carry out the work legally and safely. What to Check Under no circumstances should you use the services of an electrician unless you have verified that they are:

• Able to complete work safely and to legally required standards • Capable of working to the very latest health and safety regulations • Able to provide you with the necessary certificates to demonstrate the regulatory compliance of the work they do. These certificates may be requested by tenants, insurance providers and solicitors and may be needed if you are looking to let or come to sell your property. Unfortunately, people are killed every year by the actions of rogue electricians – please don’t become one of them! The figures are astonishing but did you know that over a million jobs are carried out annually by unqualified gas fitters? This is putting an incredible amount of families at risk of death by anything from carbon monoxide poisoning to gas fires and even explosions. The only gas registration scheme in the UK is Gas Safe and you should never employ the services of anyone not registered with them. As with the problem of using rogue electricians, many people simply take the word of a friend or family member that the person they are using does a good job, without thinking of the possible consequences. It is a legal requirement when carrying out work on a gas appliance that the trader is on the Gas Safe Register. gas

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VEHICLE CRIMe -LOCK IT OR LOSE It -

BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND PARK IN WELL LIT AREAS HIDE YOUR BELONGINGS INCLUDING BAGS, PHONES, SAT NAVS AND KEYS SECURE THE STEERING WHEEL • LOCK IT AND CHECK AGAIN TAKE YOUR KEYS WITH YOU

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Vehicle and Tool security

M ost businesses that rely on a vehicle and its contents to carry out their work are all too aware of the impact on their livelihood of their work vehicle and/or its contents being stolen. Victims will, in addition to dealing with the police and insurers, often be staring down the barrel of days or weeks of lost work, broken contracts

and reputation damage. Although many will have a sound knowledge of how to look after these tools of the trade, it does no harm not only to refresh yourself with the best steps to protect them, but also to keep abreast of the more recent security equipment available to help make them even harder for thieves to get hold of.

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It isn’t only tradesmen that are at risk – with the huge increase in online shopping there are thousands more self employed couriers on the road than ever before and thieves know that their vehicle could contain high ticket items that aren’t afforded the same protection they would get on the high street in a shop covered by CCTV and shutters. The constant opening and closing of a courier driver’s vehicle means it can be all too easy to lose concentration and leave the vehicle exposed to theft, and there are teams of criminals that follow them around in order to capitalise on this. Many couriers are particularly exposed to theft when they are holding a delivery with both hands and unable to lock the door. In the few moments it takes to deliver the parcel, the contents of the vehicle can be stolen Locking the Vehicle Often, the locking devices that come as standard with a van are insufficient against a determined thief, so considering the value of your vehicle and its contents, you should consider adding to the exterior locks on your van. Slamlocks This useful device will automatically lock the door of a vehicle a soon as it is closed, without any action by the driver. If you are involved in multi-drop deliveries then it can be a massive benefit and gives you total control over whether the vehicle is locked or not,

without having to remember to activate a lock. Thefts have taken place where drivers are leaving the vehicle unlocked for mere seconds whilst a delivery is taking place so the use of a slamlock is a no-brainer for many people. deadlocks Another massive help in van security, deadlocks differ from slamlocks in that they require the driver to physically enable the lock after shutting the door with a key. Deadlocks are notoriously difficult to break which in itself can deter a large number of opportunistic criminals as they know they will have their work cut out! Yes, they can be time consuming and inconvenient if you are constantly opening and closing the vehicle, but for traders that may be leaving their vehicle for a period of time whilst working, they can be the best form of defence. Strength Inside and Out Making things tough for thieves can also apply to the interior of the vehicle, and there are a number of steps that you can take to extend the security features, even if a thief does gain access to your vehicle. If a thief has bypassed external locking devices then it is unlikely to be a crime committed whilst you are around the vehicle, so if the vehicle is being left anywhere overnight, other than in

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a secure garage, it is of course always advisable to remove the valuable contents. There are cases where traders may be unable to do so, if they are working away from home for example, so here’s a few tips to increase your crime prevention measures if you have to leave valuables inside. Always try and park the vehicle in a well lit area – thieves hate light! This in itself will help to reduce the likelihood of becoming a

victim. For anyone who does come snooping, it can help to fit window blanks so that they cannot look into the vehicle to see if there is anything worth stealing, and as a failsafe, fit a vehicle storage box. This is basically a safe that can be locked, bolted or even welded to the inside of the vehicle and should have a strong locking mechanism so that even if someone does get in, they still will need to gain access to your equipment. If the Worse Happens If someone does compromise your work vehicle then, as previously mentioned, it is unfortunately unlikely that you will get your tools or materials back. You can however, take some steps to help the process of recovery.

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Property Marking Although you can permanently engrave such details as your postcode onto such items as tools, thieves will often scratch over these to remove themor make them unidentifiable. You could photograph them to make identification easier, and also use SmartWater. This is a traceable liquid which contains a unique chemical code which a forensic scientist can trace back to the rightful owner. Criminals are all too aware of how effective this is so ensure you display the relevant signage on your vehicle.

Trackers If your vehicle is stolen then it will be much easier for the police to find and retrieve it if it is fitted with a tracking system. They are relatively inexpensive and although the contents may have been stolen, you definitely have an increased chance of retrieving the vehicle as soon as possible. Finally, never underestimate the importance of a robust insurance policy – don’t just insure the vehicle, but any professional tools and equipment that are likely to be in it at any given time.

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$7rong p@$$word

m@king your p@s$word hQard to h@ck

u$e@tlea@st@ate ch@racters

never use b-days addresses names

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Retail Crime

I t is no secret that the retail sector has been hit hard in recent years by the increase in online sales, making it increasingly difficult to succeed. On top of this, there is the massive impact of crime in the retail sector that further impacts on profits. Retail operators can never entirely mitigate against the

impact of fraud, theft and vandalism but can certainly have an operating schedule that identifies any weaknesses and vulnerabilities and takes the necessary steps against them. Although the individual threats to a retail business are far reaching, Force is going to look at some of the more common

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ones, and the steps that most retailers can take to protect their business, stock and staff. Shoplifting Much to the annoyance of anyone running a retail business, shoplifting is still regarded by many as a victimless crime. It is quite the opposite – the cost of repeated insurance claims, the time involved dealing with police and insurers, replacing the stock and of course the stress of having your livelihood compromised sometimes on a daily basis all mean that retailers are very much a victim. The cost of security measures also adds to the expense of trying to prevent the crime, but is a necessary expense given the benefits. Although CCTV and appropriately placed mirrors can be vital as a deterrent or in securing a prosecution, it is also imperative that you and any staff are wise to the habits and tell tale signs of shoplifters. This is far from being as easy as it sounds. Many people will have a stereotypical image of a shoplifter but seasoned, career shoplifters have turned it into something of an art form – knowing how to mix with other shoppers without standing out, wearing clothes that give the appearance of affluence

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and exhibiting supreme confidence. One tactic used by shoplifters is to work as a team. One person can talk to you as a distraction, whilst the accomplice steals from you. If you have staff then you should ensure they are aware of this diversionary tactic and not ignore other people whilst in conversation. Make sure your staff are well versed on the following tips too: • Does the “customer” seem to be taking little notice of your products? • Will they seem nervous, picking up random items with little interest? • Do they often come into the shop and leave without buying anything? They could be familiarising themselves with you, your staff and your security measures. • Does the prospective customer spend as much or more time looking at the staff as they do the items for sale? • Are they lurking in corners where they’re not easily seen? • A giveaway can often be if they are wearing large, oversized coats and clothing. Having an understanding of the basic giveaways of a shoplifter is all well and good, but you should be fully aware of how wily they can be and look out for the following too: • Razor blades: some shoplifters carry these, to remove alarm tags once they’re safely in the changing room. • And it is changing rooms where they seek to transfer stolen goods into their own bags.

• Carrying shopping bags from high end retailers – this smoke and mirrors approach can give the impression that they are wealthy and would simply have no need to shoplift. Often the bags are empty or not filled with quality goods, although it is worth mentioning that shoplifting occurs across the classes and being able to shop in luxury stores does not mean the person is not a shoplifter! Shoplifters are expensive, worry inducing setbacks in retail, and although potentially violent when cornered, they still constitute a much smaller threat to safety than the risk of armed robbery. Irrespective of whether you run a high-end watch or jewellery outlet, or a small convenience store, the threat is the same – possible death or life changing physical or mental damage. Armed Robbery and attacks on staff The best way to “deal with” armed robberies is toprevent them. Understand that armed robbers commit crimes because they believe that the reward outweighs the risks. By decreasing the possible profit and increasing the risk of being caught, retailers can reduce their chance of becoming a target.

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Reducing the Risk Don’t be a soft target – as well as CCTV, panic buttons and alarms, try to ensure that tills are sited away from customers and ensure that the minimum amount of cash is kept in tills at any one time by adopting procedures to move cash quickly and safely to more secure places. If you physically transfer cash to the bank, do not develop a routine that could be recognized by potential criminals. Incorporating screens between staff and customers may seem extreme but provides not only a physical barrier between staff, cash and criminals, but also adds a level of complexity that

will deter many of them. Always use signage throughout the premises to remind people that you operate CCTV, a zero tolerance policy to shoplifting and violence or abuse against staff, and if relevant security patrols or guards. Networking There may be a formal group in your area for networking with other retailers, or you may wish to organise one. Communicating with others in the same sector can be very useful for sharing ideas and passing on information relating to crimes you may have experienced yourself, or the identity of shoplifters.

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CARD FRAUD Be aware paywith care

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Site Security

A s anyone in the construction trade will agree, construction sites are often perceived by thieves and vandals to be easy targets. This problem continues to grow year on year due to the increased value of equipment, materials and tools, and can cost businesses a fortune, adding to insurance costs and delaying completion of projects. Downtime on a construction site while stolen goods are replaced and police investigations undertaken inevitably leads to the profitability of a job being reduced massively. Construction is demanding work that requires skill and concentration so the last thing those working within the sector need is the added complication

of dealing with theft and vandalism. Before you begin your next project, make sure you are fully aware of the risks and how to avoid them. Securing the Perimeter Everything will be contained within the perimeter of the site so this is the most important part of your protection plan. A strong perimeter will be enough to deter opportunistic thieves and vandals, and make it harder for the more determined ones. • Security fencing is undoubtedly the best method of perimeter protection. Weaker areas of the perimeter such as entry and exit points need to be kept to the minimum required.

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Federation of Regional Crime Enforcement

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• Do some research on the area where you are working – is there a high crime rate? Speak to local contractors if possible or the police who can advise you. • For a sizeable project, security guards can be a sound investment when balanced against the potential losses of a breach of security. For added safety, ensure they are accredited by the SIA. • Thieves rely on being able to remain inconspicuous. They are obviously going to be more attracted to dark, unprotected jobsites where they can get in and out undetected. Reliable, portable lighting should be used when the site is closed. • Unfortunately construction site thefts can often be committed by employees with inside knowledge of the site. For this reason covert CCTV can be advisable in addition to overt CCTV which will act as a visual deterrent to outside thieves whilst providing evidence for a prosecution. • Another great deterrent

the perimeter. Don’t make them too specific so that they actually educate the thieves in how to mitigate against them! staff awarness Whether you are using your own staff, or subcontractors, you need to have adequate training in place and guidelines to ensure that those with access to the site are aware of company policy. As site crimes can often come from the inside, it will show good awareness to let all those on site know that you are observant and

to thieves is to ensure appropriate signage is displayed on

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noting not only the progress of the job as a whole, but also individual efforts. A disinterested site manager can be a green light for potential thieves to capitalise on a poorly organised site. • Ensure all on site workers know there is a zero tolerance policy towards crime and are familiar with site security procedures. The policy should include the expectation for all people on site to report any suspicious activities, and that any such reports are dealt with confidentially. • In the event of any crimes being suspected on site, you should alert the police immediately and, if necessary, be prepared to interview any staff. some basic but essential rules • If there is a site office then this can be a target for thieves as cash, keys, important documents and access to security information is often kept there. Be conscious of this and try and position the site office in such a way that it isn’t easy for anyone to just walk in and out as they please. • Any tools or valuable equipment that are left on site when it is unattended should be secured in lockable metal boxes or sheds, preferably covered by lighting and CCTV or alarms. • With transient workers and differing delivery drivers etc, you should make

the effort to issue all staff and visitors with security ID passes. Remember that these can be easily copied, so ensure they contain a reference which is logged to a particular visitor or worker. plantand materials • Criminals have learned to anticipate delivery drivers at sites and to collect the items they are delivering at the entrance and make away with them. It is imperative that there a someone trustworthy at the site entrance; preferably at all times, but certainly when items are being dropped off. • Because thieves are always looking to offload anything they have stolen or received, you should be wary of people selling tools or equipment to the workers, if it is not a representative of a proper company then the items are more than likely stolen. • Order materials on an as-needed basis to avoid expensive items being left on site. • Have an understanding of the high ticket items that thieves look out for and sometimes steal to order. Lead, cabling and copper piping are all eagerly sought after by criminals, so store them as you would tools.

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USEFUL CONTACTS

Tel: 0800 408 5500 • www.gassaferegister.co.uk Gas Safe

0330 333 7777 • www.fmb.org.uk

024 7669 0333 • www.bali.org.uk British Association oF Landscape Industries

0333 015 6625 • www.niceic.com NICEIC

0344 848 7700 • www.citizensadvice.org.uk Citizens Advice Bureau

0800 555 111 • www.crimestoppers-uk.org Crimestoppers

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RCE F FEDERATION OF REGIONAL CRIME ENFORCEMENT

01327 262 255 • www.locksmiths.co.uk Master Locksmiths Association

0330 016 0058 • www.business-force.co.uk FORCE MAGAZINE

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Cyber Crime

R ecent surveys have shown that many SME’s believe that cyber crime is something that only affects larger businesses than their own and therefore should not be overly concerned about it. In fact, a smaller business is more likely to be seen as a soft target for cyber crime and therefore significantly more likely to be vulnerable to attack. In order to help shift the

balance Force urges our readers to focus on the extent of this problem in the hope that more small businesses will take action before, rather than after the event. Firstly, think about your business – you have worked hard to make it what it is, and in modern times it will usually employ a number of activities that involve the internet and IT equipment.

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Passwords There are few more important things you can do than to regularly change your passwords, and ensure they aren’t obvious. There are too many stories of people using their partner’s, child’s or pet’s name as a password! A good rule is to ask yourself whether someone who knows you really well, couldn't guess your password in 20 attempts. Also, NEVER write them on a piece of paper and leave it next to your device, believe it or not this is more common than you would imagine! Further encrypt documents such as spreadsheets with a separate password and if you do need to let someone know a password, be sure to change it once their need for it has passed. Of course, if you employ staff that use tech devices then the same rule applies, so make sure they are aware of the same level of importance being attached to their passwords, alternatively, come up

You need to understand what a cyber attack is in relation to how it could compromise your business activities; it can damage you in the form of the theft of valuable data or even cash and can cause an amount of disruption to the running of your business that can result in you losing clients or even not being able to trade. So if we take a very basic look at an example of how your business could be compromised by technology, it may provide a wake up call for many readers. Do you use a laptop that contains information about contracts that you are tendering for? Does it also contain details of previous clients, the fees you charged and the service you carried out for them? Imagine how useful this information could be to an unscrupulous competitor. If they were able to get hold of your laptop then just how difficult would it be for them to access this information?

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It is quite normal for people to work from home these days, and in order to do so they may need to move data from work to home via a small storage device. Ensure that the same level of security is applied to files on these as they can easily be lost, left on public transport etc. There are huge changes underway in relation to your responsibility to protect data relating to your staff and customers, so having sensitive information on a USB device, or in a company laptop or telephone that is not properly password protected could land you with a serious fine. The same applies to people remotely accessing company data from home such as via Office 365. Your staff need to know not to leave passwords or company sensitive information lying around the house which could easily be taken or seen in the event of a house remote access and external devices

with the passwords yourself and give them to the staff. That way if they leave suddenly, you aren’t left struggling to access their devices. You could consider writing into their employment contract that they are not to divulge cyber sensitive information with other staff or friends and family. Online Security Firstly, something that again can easily be overlooked, especially in a small business, is the importance of using anti virus software and firewalls. They are relatively inexpensive, and there areeven effective free anti virus systems that, as part of your all round security features, will deter many hackers. As we all know, there is a constant bombardment from viruses that can retrieve sensitive data from your computers and this could be fatal to your business. Ensure that your staff receive adequate training with regard to unsolicited emails and attachments – one small slip could be disastrous. There are certain websites that increase the risk of exposure to malware so you could restrict access to these for your staff.

Federation of Regional Crime Enforcement

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burglary, or even by a domestic cleaner or family member! Also, irrespective of whether it was by choice or otherwise, it is inevitable that over time, members of staff will leave the business every now and again. Acommonoversight canbe failing to disable access for ex-employees which is incredibly dangerous from a security perspective. If they are still able to access their email accounts, scores of sensitive documents are at risk of theft or exposure. Additionally, they may still know alarm codes or have a card to enter the premises. If you don’t already have one, then incorporate a system to disable

access for every member of staff that no longer works for the organisation. This article is designed to give you an idea of how incredibly important cyber security is for ALL businesses, and to remind you of what you should be doing immediately. Some business types will be more susceptible, and indeed more harmed than others, so if you think the consequences of cyber crime and the level of vulnerability in your business is high then you should invest in the services of a professional to do a diagnostic check on your business and implement procedures and practices which could end up being one of the best investments you ever made.

Federation of Regional Crime Enforcement

MAGAZINE would like to thanK our readers,advertisers and contributors foR helpingus to fightcrime RCE F BUSINESS FEDERATION OF REGIONAL CRIME ENFORCEMENT

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myStory - bythe...

BUSINESS

RCE F FEDERATION OF REGIONAL CRIME ENFORCEMENT

...editor

S everal years ago I fell victim to a rogue trader. I think looking back that it played a major part in my desire to be a part of this magazine, because being a victim myself has helped me to connect with other victims of this crime – and it is a crime – never feel that you have been foolish or naïve and that you have brought it on yourself. The blame is not with you, but the person or persons who have scammed you. So cunning are these confidence tricksters and adept and well practiced at what they do, that it isn’t “mugs” that fall for them. Just honest, trusting people who are dealing with a very convincing fraudster.

Far from being a typical soft target that these people capitalise on, I was living in a nice property middle aged and (I liked to think) quite clued up! The property was my pride and joy and I decided to invest it in my long term future. Looking back, I made some glaring errors – I asked a neighbour, who I didn’t really know too well, if they knew of anyone that could do a decent job on my kitchen, extending it and modernising it. Now I know for a fact that they weren’t part of the scam, but what they did was say that they may know a friend who would recommend someone. So they asked someone they knew in the local pub, a friend of a friend…..you get the picture!

Federation of Regional Crime Enforcement

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So the next thing I knew I was dealing with a builder that in my mind anyway, had been recommended by someone with a good knowledge of them. That was good enough for me. After two months of work on the house, with repeated advances for materials and numerous prolonged absences due to anything from ill health to the builder having to take hiatus after “having his tools stolen” (oh, the irony…) I was left with a bill that exceeded the original estimate by nearly four thousand pounds. The work on the kitchen began to deteriorate, unit doors fell off when opened, the sealant on the surfaces leaked and a particularly heavy rainstorm

that the new roof couldn’t deal with, left me with an inch of water on the kitchen floor. Of course I made calls to him – at first he was receptive to them, explaining that he would come over and “get it sorted.” After failing to appear he then started ignoring my calls and I never saw him again. As far as chasing him went, I had a mobile number and a hotmail email address and nothing more. Yes, I made mistakes – big ones, but I know I am not the only one, and if any good came from the experience it is that not only will I never make those mistakes again, I have also made it a goal to ensure that others will know what to do if they are in my situation.

Federation of Regional Crime Enforcement

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