5 Key Security Challenges In The Construction Industry (And How To Solve Them)

It’s no secret that the construction industry is big business. The latest statistics illustrate just that, with more than 2.1 million people employed in the sector, and the industry as a whole contributing a hefty £133 billion to the UK economy.

However, with that level of popularity and economic importance naturally comes an increased risk of criminal activity, and the construction industry is unfortunately not immune to that. With high-value projects springing up across the country, and steadily rising rates of crime UK-wide, there’s ever-present and often devastating threats to security in construction.

We’ve got a comprehensive familiarity with those inherent risks here at Churchill Support Services, having provided comprehensive security in the construction industry for more than 27 years. It’s a sector we’re not only proud to represent from a security perspective – it’s one we know inside and out.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled just 5 of the most pressing concerns facing the construction industry as we head further into 2024, and what you can do to effectively, professionally and consummately combat those problems.


5 Key Problems Facing Construction Site Security (And Their Solutions)

Let’s explore five of the most critical issues that face the security of your construction site, and what you can do to most effectively combat them.


1. Tool Theft Is A Major Issue For Construction Sites

If you’ve worked in construction for any length of time, you’ll already be aware of just how pivotal the tools you use are in the day-to-day operations of your site.

From cutting-edge technology to the tried-and-tested measures we’ve seen become commonplace in building sites countrywide, our construction sites are always in need of tools and technology to streamline processes and keep pace with the demands of the modern world. That prevalence of tech, however, leads to increased criminal interest.

The latest statistics from the House of Commons highlights just how much of a pressing issue tool theft is, with the report finding an estimated £46 million worth of tools were stolen over the course of a six month period. That’s an average of almost a quarter of a million pounds (£245,893) in theft every day in that period.

That’s only set to grow as projects like new builds and property developments become more demanding, and technology advances to match with that increasing demand. Preventative measures have never been more important in that regard, and this is fortunately an area where security firms like Churchill are well versed.

In this scenario, expertly trained construction site security officers are an invaluable resource. They’ll provide both a long-proven visual deterrent to any possible thieves, as well as an immediate and effective response to any issues that do arise.

They’re also particularly effective when coupled with a robust construction CCTV system, which provides an additional and comprehensive overview of the site, as well as early warnings of any potential intrusions, thieves or unwanted presences.


2. Trespassing Is Quickly Becoming A More Prevalent Issue On Building Sites

While it may seem harmless on the surface, there’s mounting concerns surrounding the amount of trespassing that occurs across construction sites and building projects. This has always been a concern, of course, but in the age of social media, it’s become altogether much more prevalent.

Although trespassing isn’t a crime by itself, it’s the issues and damage that trespassers cause in their wake that can lead to more serious criminal charges, as well as disruptions and delays to the projects you’ve worked so hard to see through to completion.

We’ve already started to see this, and the impacts it can cause. Industry publication Construction News highlighted that in a recent piece, placing the cost of trespassing court cases in the region of an eye-watering £30,000 per incident.

This is only set to grow, too, as self-coined “urban explorers” look to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable, placing projects into jeopardy as they do so. With this comes increased chances of criminal damage, which places undue strain on what you’re already striving to achieve.

The natural solution here is a thorough, in-person security presence. Mobile security patrols for your construction site are an ideal countermeasure, offering a roving pair of eyes that can cover every access point to your site, as well as patrolling the perimeter to ensure its integrity, and to address any issues as soon as possible.

This also harmonises perfectly alongside other security measures that are designed to provide that eagle-eye view of your site you need, such as a wide network of security cameras that are strategically positioned throughout your construction site.


3. Crime On Construction Sites Inevitably Leads To Lost Income

The cost of crime on construction sites isn’t always immediately visible. While the loss of tools, equipment and materials can often be devastating, it’s easy to forget about the longer-term impacts of criminal activity on construction sites.

Take equipment theft, for instance. While the building industry is one where replacements can be sourced quickly, it still means that projects have to be put on hold for an indefinite and often disconcerting amount of time. That’s especially true for more localised tradespeople, or more independent builders.

Findings from Volkswagen’s Commercial Vehicles division uncovered just how devastating this impact can be, with tradespeople missing out on an approximately 6 days of work in the aftermath of a tool theft or break-in.

Extrapolated across the full range of tradesmen and women across the UK, that equates to an estimated £5.2 billion lost annually from the UK economy. These aren’t small figures, and especially when you consider that lost revenue can’t ever be restored, the impact of crime in the construction industry has far-reaching consequences.


4. Fuel Theft Is An Often Overlooked Concern For The Construction Sector

It’s easy to assume that, when we’ve filled our vehicles with petrol, diesel or any other form of fuel, that that’s the task over with. For opportunistic thieves, however, that’s simply another target. Petrol and diesel have, in recent times, become liquid gold for the black market, and criminals have begun to take advantage of that.

Sky News reported that, in the summer months of 2023, there were 39,563 incidents of fuel theft across the UK – a startling 77% rise over the figures for the same period of 2022, and more than 4 times the same period from 2019.

Of course, many of those incidents are through those who’ve left petrol stations without paying, but they indicate a startling trend. With so many large-tank vehicles on construction sites, and other sites opting to store fuel on-site for generators and tools, construction sites are at a much greater risk of fuel thieves.

Plus, as we start to see prices at the pumps steadily climb again, and global tensions only serving to exacerbate those issues and drive prices ever higher, incidents are only likely to see the same exponential increase in years to come.

This is where cutting-edge security can play a truly pivotal role. High-tech access controls that are designed to securely lock away any fuel reserves stored on site are an absolute must-have, and offer an intelligent way to protect what’s arguably the lifeblood of any larger-scale construction project.

Similarly, construction site security officers offer the ideal visual deterrent to accompany the more technologically-based access controls, locking systems and security measures, further reinforcing the safety of your site.


5.Crimes Involving Work Vehicles Are On The Rise

Construction is, by its very nature, a mobile business. From huge projects and sites like housing estates and major renovations, through to the transportation of materials and equipment, vehicles play a crucial role in keeping the construction industry moving.

Unfortunately though, as has far too often been the case countrywide, that use of vehicles creates another target for criminals looking to impact the construction industry. Vehicles themselves are a clear target, with some of the more common construction site mainstays (like Transit and Sprinter vans) being among some of the UK’s most stolen vehicles.

Many tradespeople have opted to fit GPS devices and trackers that alert the owner of any movements of the van, which have proven to be an effective deterrent. However, thieves are now circumventing that, and instead opting to steal from the vehicle and leave it behind, as opposed to taking the whole van.

In fact, figures from industry publication Fleet News illustrate just how prevalent theft from vehicles has become, with 2023 seeing a 25% increase over previous years’ statistics. That’s largely down to more technologically-advanced tools, as well as more brazen thieves operating across the UK.

There is a solution, however. Parking close to your property, as well as having a complete coverage through a construction site CCTV solution, offer two simple yet highly effective ways to ensure the continued safety of both your vehicle and any precious cargo.

Similarly, making effective use of mobile security patrols can be a hugely effective measure to have in place if you’ve got a fleet of vehicles stored in an on-site garage or parking facility, offering complete peace of mind and coverage for what’s likely to be a huge areas of attention for any potential criminal.


Is Crime On Construction Sites Getting Worse?

Unfortunately, the truth of this is difficult to see. Construction sites and projects have long been huge targets for the most opportunistic of thieves and trespassers, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

The data we have for crime on construction sites makes for grim reading, as we’ve already touched on throughout this piece. Statistics across both theft from vehicles and the theft of tools have both seen exponential rises when we compare them to statistics from previous years, with no sign of changing or slowing down.

A recent piece from insurers Howden place this at a shocking “one theft every 15 minutes” which is no doubt an alarming figure for tradespeople across the country.

The ongoing cost of living crisis, coupled with other pressing socioeconomic factors like post-Brexit uncertainties, has only lead to rises in crimes across the board too. Theft in particular, while undoubtedly a concern for the construction sector, has seen a sharp uptick when we look at previous years’ statistics.

Our recent rankings of London’s most dangerous areas delves more into depth on the state of crime in this cost of living crisis, but the headline statistics from that report all point towards soaring figures in crimes where theft is involved in some capacity, including the theft of motor vehicles.

Ultimately, while statistics like these won’t come as a surprise to many in the industry, the sheer extent of them is, to say the least, disheartening. That’s particularly true for those who are new to the sector, or those with limited capital to keep themselves afloat in the wake of an incident. There are options, though.


Why Churchill Are The Ideal Choice For Security On Construction Sites

Here at Churchill Support Services, we understand the risks that construction sites face all too well. In our extensive 27 tenure as one of the UK’s leading security companies, we’ve seen firsthand just how badly impacted the construction sector is by crime, especially so in a cost of living crisis.

That’s been a key driving force in our decision to create custom-built, robust and professional security for one of the UK’s most pivotal sectors. From cutting-edge cameras and CCTV monitoring, right through to expertly trained construction site security guards, we’ve continually refined what we can offer to building sites and projects up and down the UK.

With Churchill, we extend that tailormade approach to our pricing strategies, too. You’ll be given a customised quotation when you enquire, which not only ensures that every demand of your unique site is met, but that it fits within your undoubtedly stringent budgetary considerations too.

All of this, alongside our patented People First approach to every contract we undertake, has meant we’ve consistently been in the Top 0.1% of all ACS-approved contractors for over 3 years, with 2023 seeing us take the crown as #1 in the ACS rankings.

If you’d like to learn more about how we could be the ideal solution for your construction security conundrums, and to receive a free, no obligation quote, get in touch with our in-house experts today!

Andy Farley

Group Chief Operating Officer

Andy is an experienced operations and sales professional with over 20 years’ experience. As Group Chief Operations Director, Andy is responsible for service delivery to new and existing clients throughout the UK, managing the 24 hour control room, the supervisory team and Operations Managers, and for driving efficiencies and best practice standards within the organisation.