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The Detection Delusion - Creating a False Sense of Security

Updated: Apr 5

In the world of security, technology has carved an impressive niche for itself. Turn to LinkedIn or any industry forum and you are bombarded with the latest in Perimeter Intrusion Detection Systems (PIDS), video verification technologies and other cutting-edge devices.

At face value, they promise unparalleled protection, especially for void properties. However, on deeper analysis, we confront a troubling question: is our faith in detection technology misplaced?

burglar caught in cctv camera

The Deterrence vs. Detection Dichotomy

The crux of the issue arises from the fundamental distinction between 'detection' and 'deterrence'. Detection is the process of identifying unauthorised access or threats. Deterrence, on the other hand, aims to prevent those threats from even attempting to breach security. While both have their merits, they cater to different contexts.

On commercial sites equipped with a manned guarding presence, detection is a highly effective strategy.

The combination of early detection, usually at the perimeter or along common adversary routes, followed by a swift human response is a robust security solution. Intruders are detected, intercepted, and neutralised in a timely manner.

The Void Property Vulnerability

Void properties present a completely different set of challenges. In these cases, the absence of an onsite response force makes detection-focused strategies inherently flawed.

When an alarm is tripped, the common response is from mobile units dispatched to the site following alarm assessment by a monitoring ARC. However, these mobile units, often serving multiple clients over extensive areas, can't deliver the immediacy required.

Various factors like the initial time of intrusion, traffic, and distances mean that response times stretch from minutes to hours. By the time help arrives, the intruders have often vanished into thin air.

The Illusion of Safety

Relying solely on detection in such scenarios is akin to locking an open barn door after the horse has bolted. Clients, believing their properties are secure, are left vulnerable. It offers a semblance of protection, a technological smokescreen, while in reality leaving the property exposed.

Moreover, the initial costs of deterrence methods, like site hardening, often deter clients. Ironically, this results in them opting for the seemingly high-tech, but ultimately ineffective, detection-only approaches.

Questioning the 'Experts'

This detection delusion is further propagated by some so-called 'security experts'. Driven more by the lure of rental income from their fancy gadgets than genuine client protection, they often lack a comprehensive understanding of physical security and crime prevention. Their focus remains on pushing technology, not crafting effective, holistic security solutions.

The Balanced Approach

A combination of detection and deterrence offers a much more potent strategy for void properties. Deterrence measures set the stage by discouraging intruders from attempting a breach and if they still proceed, detection mechanisms come into play. With both working in tandem, the chances of intrusions drop significantly.

The Balanced Approach: Fortifying Void Properties

A holistic approach to securing void properties goes beyond the deployment of detection systems. It integrates preventive, corrective, and detective security controls. This synergy creates a potent defence strategy that, when adequately implemented, considerably reduces vulnerabilities.

Here are some time-tested and foundational security controls to harden a void property:

1. Physical Barriers

Window and Door Boarding: Reinforced boarding for windows and doors can effectively prevent unauthorised access. Made from sturdy materials, these barriers can deter most intruders and serve as a visual deterrent as well.

Fencing: Establishing a strong perimeter is crucial. Robust fencing not only acts as a physical barrier but also denotes property ownership, signalling to potential intruders that the area is monitored and controlled.

2. Lighting

Eliminating dark corners and areas of concealment through strategic lighting can drastically reduce the appeal of a property to potential intruders. Well-lit properties make illicit activities more noticeable and thus less attractive to those with nefarious intentions.

3. Environmental Design

Drawing from the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), we recognise the importance of:

Territoriality and Image Management:

The aesthetic upkeep of a property can significantly influence its attractiveness for criminals. Cleanliness, landscaping, and regular maintenance send a message of ownership and vigilance. As Paul Cozens mentions in "Think Crime," a well-maintained urban space discourages criminal activities and emphasises that the place is cared for, monitored, and defended.

Broken Windows Theory: As proposed by Wilson and Kelling, the state of urban environments can play a pivotal role in encouraging or discouraging crime.

A property that exhibits neglect, like broken windows or accumulated waste, can become a magnet for criminal activity. By contrast, a property that displays signs of care and maintenance deters would-be intruders. Simple measures, such as waste clearance, can make a considerable difference.

4. Integrative Technology

While technology should not be the only line of defence, it does play a pivotal role when incorporated judiciously:

Video Verification Systems and CCTV Towers: These technologies, when deployed as part of a multi-layered strategy, add a valuable layer of security. They augment physical barriers and environmental design strategies by providing real-time surveillance, detection and evidence collection.

In essence, the security of void properties requires a return to basics combined with thoughtful innovation.

A multi-layered approach, embracing defence in depth, recognises that the synergy of various controls—from simple cleanliness measures to cutting-edge technological surveillance—offers the most potent protection. It’s an invitation for the industry to remember that sometimes, the simplest interventions can be the most effective.


While technology has done wonders for the security industry, an over-reliance on detection for void properties creates a dangerous illusion.

It's essential for clients and industry professionals alike to understand the specific challenges associated with different property types and tailor their security strategies accordingly. Anything less does a disservice to the very concept of security.

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