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Safes don’t wear out very quickly.

Many safes we see date from Victorian times, and aren’t really suitable for more than small change since they’re not the best type to give all-round protection. In fact, an old safe could increase your chance of burglary because it’s seen as an easy target.

Most safe manufacturers sell a range of security safes of varying attack resistance and cash ratings, but not all safes are made to a recognised acceptable standard. The majority are designed to protect cash from theft when the key or combination holder isn’t present, usually when the premises are closed and unattended; and not necessarily during business hours when the safe is opened with the key or combination under duress.

If you handle a large amount of cash on your premises, it’s likely you’ll need a secure room where cash and safes can be kept and cash can be taken for processing during the day, or stored until it’s removed. Designing and constructing a secure cash-handling room requires specialist knowledge and experience.

  • Decide what the safe is for. A safe that protects computer disks from fire may not be the best for protecting a large amount of cash.
  • Similarly, a safe designed to deter against a daytime robbery such as a hold-up will need different features to one where an overnight burglary is the main risk.
  • Select the quality and strength of safe that you need. Normally, the higher the value that a safe is intended to protect, the stronger it needs to be. For security safes, look for one that has been tested and graded to BS EN 1143-1 (or BS EN 1143-2, for safes with deposit facilities) by a recognised independent testing organisation.

    - The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) maintains RedBook Live, a website that provides details of approved products and services, including safes they have tested.

    - The higher the grade number, the more resistant the safe should be to a forced opening. Most manufacturers will indicate a maximum value they recommend be kept in one of their security safes. However, this is only given for rough guidance, and won’t reflect the particular hazards relating to your business.

    - For security safes, look for safes which display the 'AIS Approved’  sticker.
  • Plan for peak periods and future growth when calculating what values may have to be protected by the safe.
  • Provide your insurance broker or agent with full details of the safe and get approval before ordering.
  • Make sure fire resistant safes have been tested by an independent testing organisation. The rating of the safe will usually be shown as fire resistance in minutes (normally 60 or 120 minutes). Fire resistant safes typically fall into two categories: those suitable for the protection of paper documents and those designed to protect computer data media, such as back-up discs.

    - Don’t buy a document safe if you want to protect computer media.

    - Even if a safe is an option, it’s still important to keep copies of your computer data away from the premises, as fires in commercial building can last for many hours – often longer than the resistance rating.
  • Work out what size the safe you buy needs to be. There is no point in buying a safe that is too large to fit inside your premises or too small for the money and goods you intend to keep in it. Safe manufacturers will usually provide internal and external dimensions for each size of safe they offer.
  • Decide where the safe should be situated, ensuring the floor is suitable for the loaded weight of the safe. Unless you already have that information, you may need to get advice from a building surveyor or structural engineer.

    - Remember the safe has to be delivered to its final resting place. Other parts of the building across which the safe might be moved may not be as strong. Discuss delivery and installation with the safe company.
  • Try to avoid locating safes close to workshops which have power cutting tools or welding equipment. If this can’t be avoided, make sure, with the help of the safe company, that you choose a safe designed to resist the type of tools available.
  • Choose a concealed area away from both public gaze and where easy view through a window isn’t possible, and avoid fitting the safe in a position where the door can’t be fully opened.
  • Locate the safe within an area protected by a remotely monitored intruder alarm. The alarm should reduce the amount of time thieves have to try to open the safe.
  • Check what’s included in quotations; e.g. is delivery included to the fixing point (or just to the kerbside)? Does the price include fixing? Wherever possible, safes should always be fixed to a suitable concrete floor, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Installation should be by the manufacturer or their approved agent.
  • Decide on how many locks there should be and what type. Most safe manufacturers offer a choice, e.g. key-operated, mechanical combination locks, and sophisticated electronic locks offering multiple user codes, time-lock and time-delay functions, plus usage memory for audit trail purposes (or combinations of these)

    - Where you don’t want any one person to be able to open a safe, having two locks (of whatever type) is an option. Often, where the safe is a deposit type that allows money to be ‘posted’ in, one of those people may be a security cash collection company. For retailers where managers may change, having at least one combination lock will be useful. Where you have a number of staff who have access to the safe, electronic locks that provide each with his/her own number and give you an audit trail can be useful.
  • Consider a safe with a deposit facility if the work environment is retail premises or similar. It allows any employee to ‘post’ money into the safe without having access to the main cash compartment.

    - Using deterrent signs can be a useful way of reducing the hold-up risk, but be aware not all deposit safes will have the opening protected to the same standard as the rest of the safe.
Find information on regulations that you and your business may need to comply with.
Some of our templates may be useful when developing security systems.
Identify the key functions in your business and work out the damage that interruption could do.
Frequently asked questions
Find answers to some common queries about securing property, vehicles and stock, and protecting people against potential threats.