How to keep your designated keyholders safe

How safe is your keyholder? As a business owner, you'll know that your most important asset is your people. This, as well as your legal responsibilities, is why you care about their safety.

But when they respond to an alarm activation their well-being may be being put at risk. Our recommendation would always be to outsource your keyholding to a professional company. However, if you do delegate this responsibility to your staff, here are some top tips to keep them safe.

Have more than one person attend an alarm activation

Business owners have a legal obligation to protect lone workers. This includes those attending an alarm call out. As such, a full risk assessment must be undertaken to make responding to an alarm as safe as possible.

It’s good practice for a second person to respond to any call where possible. Arrange for the pair to meet off-site first. This avoids the situation of one arriving before the other and putting themselves at extra risk.

At the very least, ensure more than one person is aware of the alarm activation. This allows them to keep in contact with the keyholder, and check on their safety. The keyholder should always carry a working mobile telephone, with a charged battery. This is essential to maintain contact with colleagues/emergency services.

Ensure keyholders don’t enter a premises if there are any signs of forced entry

If there is any sign of a break-in, the keyholder should not be expected to enter the building. The possibility that an intruder is still on site, or has left a booby trap means the building should not be entered. Also, if a break-in has occurred, then the site becomes a crime scene. To avoid contaminating evidence, the keyholder should stay outside.

They should only enter if it is clear no-one is still on site and the lights are in good working order. They should never touch anything though to avoid contaminating potential evidence.

Following this advice will significantly reduce the risk to keyholders. It will also mean your business adheres to guidelines on safeguarding employees’ health and safety.

The keyholder should never challenge intruders

If an intruder is discovered, your keyholder should not attempt to challenge or apprehend them. In the event of an intruder being on site, the keyholder should withdraw to a safe place and alert the authorities.

If possible, they should try to get a description of the intruder(s). They should also attempt to discover any other useful information. Recalling vehicle registration plates or anything suspicious may help to identify a criminal.

To avoid personal injury, employees should never approach any unauthorised persons on site.

Light the business premises for extra security

To assist your keyholder with the routine opening and closing of a premises, external lighting should be fitted. Where continuous external lighting is not appropriate, fit motion sensored lighting instead.

Again, it is good practice for a second person to be with the keyholder when locking or unlocking the premises. For businesses in areas of high crime, or those with high value goods on site, issue keyholders with personal attack alarms.

Keep your records up-to-date

The alarm receiving centre (ARC) who monitor your alarm need up-to-date contact information for all keyholders. Supply any changes of address, personnel or phone numbers to the ARC immediately. This allows them to contact the correct person in the event of an alarm activation. Having a correct mobile number on record allows the ARC to keep in contact with the keyholder after they have left their home address. This means they can pass on crucial information while the keyholder is en route to the site.

Use a professional keyholding service in Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge

The best way to protect employees and get complete peace of mind is to use the services of a professional keyholding and alarm response company. Abbey Security provide keyholding services to companies throughout Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Our local teams carry keys in their vehicles, so they can be on site fast.

Trained to deal with many situations, a professional officer can quickly assess an incident. They also know how to liaise with the emergency services. As well as undertaking thorough internal and external patrols to identify any irregularities, they will lock/unlock your business premises daily if requested.

By using a security company such as Abbey Security any risk to your staff is immediately eliminated.


Hopefully, these tips will help your business to keep you keyholders safer when attending alarm activations. If correct processes are in place the risk to their safety is dramatically reduced.

If you want more information about Abbey Security’s keyholding and rapid alarm response services please call 01284 768832, or complete our contact form.

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