SECOM CHOSEN TO VALIDATE SECURITY LEVELS AT CASSOA SITES
A key difficulty faced by organisations whose members provide an accredited service is to ensure that this service is always carried out to the highest standards. This was the challenge facing the Caravan Storage Sites Owners’ Association (CaSSOA) recently.
The company needed to ensure that storage sites that are accredited by CaSSOA continue to meet its strict standards. The solution was to ask leading security specialist SECOM to carry out regular audits of the sites
Developing secure storage facilities
CaSSOA is a membership-based company owned by an international insurance company. CaSSOA members have been providing secure storage sites for caravans in the UK for over 20 years and there are now nearly 500 accredited sites throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. CaSSOA demands high standards from its members, with accreditation being achieved at four different levels – Bronze (now called Associate membership), Silver, Gold and more recently, Platinum.
The type and size of CaSSOA sites vary greatly, and they are all operated by individual business owners. The sites range from a storage field to a highly secure indoor facility. Site capacities vary from 50 to over 800, with asset values ranging from £300 to £200,000. They are all kept under lock and key, with security measures such as access control, CCTV and 24 hours a day monitoring.
Previously, anyone with a field or facility could store caravans, but there was no industry benchmark to monitor the level of security provided. When CaSSOA was formed in 1999, it introduced benchmarked, insurance-level security, with the standard required varying according to the level of accreditation.
Adopting a new auditing process
Adopting a new auditing process Becci Bailey, CaSSOA’s Manager, comments: “Because the sites are so varied, it’s vital that we know that each one continues to achieve the level of security associated with its accreditation level. This is very important for the end users’ peace of mind, so we’re committed to ensuring that our members’ sites are upholding our standards and keeping the caravans as secure as possible.”
Until recently, sites were being audited by a single person every five years. However, CaSSOA wanted to carry out the security reviews more regularly, so it recently changed this to once every three years. This will ensure that any members not meeting the criteria can be weeded out quickly. The company realised that to conduct the more regular reviews effectively, they would need a team of experts. They wanted a turnkey company that could provide a full solution for them, including advice to the members.
While CaSSOA was looking for a suitable provider, it received a phone call from Ian Barthorpe, SECOM’s National Account Manager. SECOM has been a leading provider of security and fire safety solutions for over 100 years and has amassed a host of quality and industry accreditations. Like CaSSOA, the company covers the whole of the UK and southern Ireland.
Becci Bailey continues: “We needed a high quality security provider, as our good name and reputation depends on introducing the best possible storage solutions to our clients. We decided to go with SECOM as they met all of our criteria. They have the same basic ethos as us and have all the security industry qualifications necessary to become a CaSSOA recommended service supplier.”
The new security reviews were necessary because any leisure asset is a potential target for criminals. CaSSOA is committed to the provision of secure, monitored facilities. SECOM will visit and audit each member’s site and check the benchmark security levels for each of the accreditation levels.
Carrying out the audits
Each audit includes a full survey of the facilities provided, and of the associated risk information; the preparation of detailed reports along with recommendations to reduce any potential risks; and fire risk and health and safety advice.
“CaSSOA carried out due diligence on us before we started,” says Ian Barthorpe, “and found we are an international, multi-billion pound company. They loved our approach and ideas. This represents a different type of service for us. Our traditional approach is to visit companies who need security and provide solutions such as access or intruder control and fire systems. This is the opposite way round: the security systems are there, but we have to ensure they’re up to scratch. We also provide a free security consultancy service to each site, with no obligation to use our solutions.”
SECOM now has a team of 17 experts carrying out the audits. Every one of them are security trained. Another system that SECOM has introduced is called the Red Button. If a prospective CaSSOA customer is deciding whether to become a member, they can contact Ian directly. He’ll go through the preliminaries and book an appointment with their regional SECOM security reviewer. They will visit the prospective member and talk to them about what they need to do and the standards they’ll need to meet.
Ian comments: “It’s a joy to work with CaSSOA. It’s a highly regarded organisation. Their whole team and their clients are very polite and professional – and they expect us to be the same. It’s very lucrative for the owner of a storage facility to become a CaSSOA member. The charges they can make depend on the level of accreditation they have. Every CaSSOA site in the UK is fully subscribed: none have more than 5 or 10% free capacity, and many even have waiting lists.”
Some of the sites are automated and some are manual. Many of the members with the highest level of accreditation – platinum – adopt a fully automated approach. For example, the gate opens automatically by number plate recognition, with the caravan owner having already been assigned a space.
SECOM split the UK and Eire into different CaSSOA regions, so that it could provide total coverage of the area. SECOM’s experienced risk surveyors visit each site personally to check the security (such as perimeter fencing, access control, exit/entry system, CCTV, alarms, fire protection) and the onsite facilities. Each category will be subject to a points matrix, with the number of points awarded determining the accreditation level achieved.
“When auditing, there are a raft of requirements we have to adhere to,” says Ian Barthorpe. “For instance, access has to be completely controlled and the CCTV coverage must be sufficient. This could include the analytics – and every single site has a different level of security as well as a differing brief of how they manage that security. We even have to check items like the signage to ensure that the site has the right level of membership displayed.”
Becci Bailey concludes: “We started using SECOM as our dedicated site survey provider in September 2022. Both our management and our employees are pleased with the process that’s been adopted. The communication with SECOM has been superb throughout, with Ian Barthorpe developing a thorough understanding of our organisational needs, and fully briefing his team to carry out our surveys impartially and to a high standard.”
She adds: “We’re extremely happy with the results so far. All of our KPIs have been met well within the required timescales. We’ve also been really impressed with SECOM’s commitment to offer advice and guidance to our members with no obligation to purchase. The new audits will continue to reassure end users that their caravans or motorhomes are being stored very safely and securely.”