Anti-social behaviour – Halloween and Bonfire night
We looked at anti-social behaviour rising during the summer months, but there are some extra precautions to be taken in the later months of the year too. With the nights getting longer and Halloween and Bonfire Night just around the corner, is your business prepared security-wise?
The days running up to these two events are traditionally some of the busiest nights of the year for the police, the fire brigade and ambulance service, with messages of appeal going out to encourage people to enjoy ‘responsibly’. Parties and events to celebrate take place in the evenings and often include alcohol and fireworks. Fireworks used outside of controlled and official displays often cause damage to both people and property. Anti-social behaviour is a serious concern, posing a threat to all types of buildings, including commercial properties, and the business community.
Anti-social behaviour associated with the Halloween and Bonfire Night period has become a major issue for many communities in the UK. Scotland Yard have an annual campaign to tackle ASB called operation Autumn Nights. Last year calls concerning ASB went up an average of 6% during autumn festivities. The term covers a wide range of unacceptable activity that ‘causes harm to an individual, to their community or to their environment’. It might not all seem relevant, but anti-social behaviour can still affect businesses. Fear of crime, concern for the safety of staff and neighbours, or worries about damage to your property and its security are all related to anti-social behaviour.
Examples of anti-social behaviour on or around Halloween and Bonfire Night that could affect a business include:
- Nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours
- Uncontrolled or unsafe firework displays or use of fireworks
- Vandalism, graffiti or fly posting
- Inappropriate use of costumes/decorations (e.g. used to scare or intimidate staff)
- Environmental damage such as littering, dumping of rubbish and abandonment of cars
- Threatening behaviours towards staff or customers
- Inconsiderate or inappropriate use of vehicles
Some retailers are advised not to sell eggs and flour to under 16s during the Halloween period (Suffolk police also provide this poster to help support this) and firework sales are prohibited to those under 18. Here are the laws surrounding fireworks.
Your business could suffer financially if anti-social behaviour deters customers from entering your business, or if damage to property requires substantial budget to fix. Fireworks and decorations can also be dangerous and bring the risk of injury.
Protecting your business
In 2014 the Crime and Policing Act 2014 was reformed to create powers for local authorities and police to tackle anti-social behaviour more effectively.
The Government has outlined anti-social behaviour tools and powers that communities, individuals and businesses can use to tackle it.
Some of these power include:
- Criminal Behaviour Order - A Criminal Behaviour Order can be issued by any criminal court against a person who has been convicted of an offence. It aims to tackle the most persistent anti-social individuals who are also engaged in criminal activity.
- Dispersal Powers - Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers can instruct an individual who has committed, or is likely to commit, anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder to leave a particular area for up to 48 hours.
- Public Spaces Protection Order - The Public Spaces Protection Order is designed to stop individuals or groups committing anti-social behaviour in a public space.
- Closure Notice - Where there is nuisance to the public or disorder near the premises, a closure notice of up to 48 hours can be issued by the council or the Police without going to court.
- Community Remedy - The Community Remedy gives victims a say in the out-of-court punishment of perpetrators of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour.
Co-op Secure Response can guide you through the steps we have taken to contribute towards local authorities and police taking some of the above actions. By utilising the tools and powers available, it will assist you in taking some ownership over the anti-social behaviour issues effecting you.
If you would like further information, on how your business can contribute, please contact Co-op Secure Response.
How to protect your business
Criminal activity, break-ins and anti-social behaviour can reduce the profitability of a business, no matter the time of year. Around public holidays like Halloween and Bonfire Night it is even more important to protect your business from anti-social behaviour. To help you do this, here are some tips:
- Decorate with caution
Make sure that any decorations you put up in or around your business won’t cause problems for customers or staff. You need to make sure that they won’t cause injury or offence or become hazardous at any point. Never obstruct fire exits, alarms or extinguishers or any other safety equipment. Any decorations that require plugging in or batteries need to be safety checked too.
- Secure commercial vehicles
Commercial vehicles should either be parked in well-lit areas or in a garage/secure area at Halloween to make sure they don’t fall victim to acts of vandalism. Close and lock all the windows and doors and if the vehicle has an alarm system, set it. If you are unable to lock the vehicles away, there are covers available to go over them. This could protect them from spray paint, silly string etc.
- Hire security guards
If you believe that your business is going to be at higher risk during Halloween and Bonfire Night, hire security personnel from a reliable and legitimate security company to guard your business premises. Co-op Secure Response can provide security guards that will watch out for you, your business and your people. We can provide the right security guard team for your business.
- Use CCTV
CCTV can help to deter criminals. It will also provide you with evidence should anything occur. Co-op Secure Response can help you fit the right CCTV equipment and you’ll be connected to our very own fully accredited Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ARC currently monitors over 6,000 CCTV cameras, so you’re in good hands.
- Trick or treat
At Halloween in particular, staff and customers may wish to wear costumes. It is of course, up to you if you wish to allow staff to dress up but have name tags and identity cards for all employees, so security guards can recognise strangers. Costumes should not be used to make people feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way. Also remember that some costumes can be made from flammable materials, so take extra precautions.
- Use the right lighting
A creepy atmosphere is great for Halloween parties, but visibility inside your business should still be good to avoid people getting injured or property being damaged. Outdoor lighting should be in good working order to reduce the risk of accidents or vandalism. Use battery-powered LED lights with proper safety certifications and avoid the use of candles.
- Firework safety
Conduct a risk assessment. If your business has any areas where the risk of potential firework damage is high, consider taking extra precautions. This might include protecting letter boxes internally with metal containers, designed to contain fires from lighted materials such as fireworks, storing away combustible materials such as timber pallets and plastic crates and storing away any flammable liquids and gases. Remember that fireworks are also used to celebrate at other times of the year so these safety measures are always relevant.
- Have emergency plans in place
Anti-social behaviour can escalate quickly. Go over plans with your staff so they know what they need to do to stay safe. If you plan to celebrate Halloween or Bonfire Night as a business make sure you know the risks and put emergency plans in place beforehand.