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Harvey Nichols Upgrade

by msecadm4921

Head of security at the upmarket Harvey Nichols department store in Knightsbridge, Brian Lenahan, was charged with upgrading an ageing security system.

Work on updating the previous security system began in November 2004, when security supplier Blue Rock Security Solutions took over the maintenance of the retailer’s security equipment. "When I arrived, the camera system was a patch-work approach controlled by a sophisticated system that no-one could use,” recalls Lenehan.

The 150-year age of the building also proved problematic. "The amount of wiring coming into the system was phenomenal. There were thousands of redundant cables because they had never been stripped out. The first job was to strip out the old cable to find what was live,” says Lenahan.

Dome cameras were replaced with more discreet five inch Honeywell 360 degree domes with 27x optical zoom that gave a lot better coverage. The new cameras were also more reactive, meaning operators in the security’s control room were able to follow suspects and ensure continuity of coverage. Next step was a review of the videotape storage system. Following a police directive that recordings should be kept for a minimum of a month to help with any investigations, Lenahan and team realised that back-tracking over tapes to find an incident three weeks previously was time-consuming. Digital recording was introduced with date stamping, which allowed operators and investigators to recall incidents in seconds. Nine Dedicated Micros 600GB DVR’s were installed to cover the 140 cameras within the shop for 31 days recording, and the units were connected to Harvey Nichols’ LAN to allow remote viewing. Since installation, the system has not only caught external thieves, but isolated internal incidents. In a recent case, an employee was suspected of stealing from the company. Following data mining the retailer was able to prove the time and date of fraudulent transactions and correspond these to the time that the employee was working alone at the tills. Faced with the evidence, the employee admitted guilt. Harvey Nichols has also updated its tagging system to Blue Rock’s SkyGuard system, in the past year. "When I first came we had pedestals – I didn’t feel that was the sort of image Harvey Nichols should be portraying," says Lenehan. Instead, a loop system, fitted around the doors and barely visible to the customer, provides a more appropriate security measure for store customers. But its effectiveness has not diminished. "It sends an alarm to the control room. We’ve had numerous arrests from people going out of the door. At one time we were relying on staff to get the door, now a camera goes to that position," says Lenehan.

Blue Rock Security Solutions director Anthony Penny agrees: "It fits in with the image of Harvey Nichols. There is always a battle between merchandising and security, but this security solution is not in your face. Another addition we were able to recommend and implement at the store was our MetalGuard security technology.” Following an increase in the use of foil-lined bags to try and fool the retailer’s security system into not sensing the tags, Penny recommended the installation of MetalGuard. Now, as someone enters the store, any foil lining in a bag triggers a security guard’s pager. This technology enables guards to not only catch people in the act of stealing, but these people can also be charged with ‘going equipped to steal’. This technology helps thieves to be caught with product from other stores in their bags, which are returned to the retailer.

Brian Lenehan adds: "When the CCTV system was taken over by Blue Rock in Knightsbridge, I came to work the following day and I was overwhelmed by the improvements to our system overnight. Obviously, we are constantly reviewing our security as new displays reveal vulnerable spots, but working alongside Blue Rock we are confident that we are now offering customers a highly secure store to shop in.”

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