The Evolution of Physical Security Measures: assessing the benefits and implications

The aim of this report was to develop a better understanding of the ways in which physical security measures are being enhanced by internet-enabled technologies which we refer to as ‘advanced technologies’ and the implications this has on security practice. While there are many potential benefits to advanced technology, there has been less focus on whether and how the benefits are realised. The report is based on a survey of security professionals, and in depth interviews with both security professionals and offenders involved in a variety of acquisitive crimes.


The report demonstrates that many of the traditional elements of good security are still important today and perhaps all the more so because of technological advancements. These include good products where security is designed in; a good security strategy guided by the broader needs of the business; recognition of the potential barriers to implementation and the need to chart a path for circumventing those barriers; effective implementation and management; savvy security staff with skills in both security and business; and good user engagement with programmes. The report demonstrates how offenders adapt quickly to circumvent advanced technology and find ways to exploit it to their benefit, highlighting the fallibility of even the most advanced systems especially when they are not designed, installed and managed effectively.


Professor Martin Gill who led the research noted:


Speaking to both offenders and security professionals it is significant that while advances in technology can make offending harder by presenting new challenges to overcome and can enable a more informed and efficient response; it can also present new opportunities to offenders, not least the ability to be anonymous by offending remotely. Notably, people remain crucial – to implement and use technology effectively, and to respond effectively to the incidents that technology can identify. Offenders are used to having to adapt and will learn how to overcome the problem of security or find an alternative method or target. This research is a timely reminder that advanced technology while undoubtedly holding a number of benefits for physical security is not a panacea.


The Security Research Initiative is sponsored by the security sector (buyers and suppliers), and involves an annual study. The reports are made available free of charge in order to provide a more informed information base about the workings of the security sector.

To view a copy of the full findings click here

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