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Safety in the city

Matthew Holliday, Director of Technical Services and Field Operations at the National Security Inspectorate, describes how an existing innovative partnership scheme protecting multi-occupancy commercial buildings has been repurposed, unlocking a spectrum of potential benefits for FMs beyond its City of London origins

Facilities managers play a vital role in influencing property owners and managing agents to proactively manage security challenges.

Now a forward thinking, partnership-led initiative designed to tangibly strengthen security and fire safety within multi-occupied commercial buildings around the City of London has been introduced, with the potential to be rolled out across the UK. The Building Security Assessment Scheme provides a distinctive quality benchmark, signifying commitment to safeguarding premises, tenants and the wider public.

The scheme offers a best practice framework for supporting and promoting competent principles in security provision and an opportunity to demonstrate security and life safety are high on an organisation’s agenda.


First launched by the City of London Crime Prevention Association 10 years ago – in collaboration with the City of London Police, City of London Corporation, representatives of managing agents and the security industry – the successful non-profit making Building Security Assessment Scheme has now been updated in response to evolving security needs.

NSI was invited to collaborate in this review in its new role as the scheme’s sole third-party assessing body and administrator. The move has ensured the scheme’s practicality for those overseeing building security, widened its geographic scope and streamlined the application process.

Don Randall MBE, Chairman City of London Crime Prevention Association states: “The CoLCPA are extremely pleased to be able to partner with NSI and update and refresh the newly formed Building Security Assessment Scheme. The scheme will enhance the safety and security of all building occupants, support the blue light services and future-proof current and planned legislative changes.”


In practical terms, an independent reviewer conducts on-site visits to verify completion of relevant specialist risk assessments by competent individuals or organisations, assessing the implementation status of associated recommendations. This procedure provides valuable insights into existing strengths and constructive feedback for potential enhancements.

The scheme criteria encompass risk assessments, evacuation and invacuation plans, trauma pack accessibility, optional Safe Haven status (preferable), electronic security measures, and personnel training, including Project Kestrel fire and counter-terror training. An NSI reviewer subsequently evaluates those overseeing security plans, fire safety, health & safety risk assessments, recommendations, and their implementation status. Additionally, proof that key security systems and services are sourced from independently approved third-party certificated providers, or demonstrable compliance with relevant British Standards, is required.

The NSI reviewer will also request and review matters including the demonstration of security officers’ completion of appropriate security awareness training modules, such as ACT counter-terrorism and Project Kestrel fire awareness training. This equips security officers with a comprehensive understanding of fire safety. In addition, the reviewer will examine evidence of key links with Emergency Services and CSSC (Cross-sector Security and Safety Communications), a registered charity partnership facilitating preparedness for scenarios ranging from counter-terrorism to cybercrime, public order events and transportation issues, among others.


Upon completion of the NSI review an award is presented, outwardly showcasing the building’s independent assessment against this quality benchmark. The first four commercial multi-occupancy sites to receive their certificates, marking the successful evaluation under the updated Building Security Assessment Scheme, were recognised in November 2023.

The preferable provision of a designated ‘Safe Haven’ during emergencies, typically situated in a building’s reception area, where security officers are deployed, would offer temporary refuge to members of the public and others who may feel vulnerable. A dedicated ‘Safe Havens’ security app compiles a comprehensive list of all participating buildings within each area.

The revised scheme now opens avenues for building owners and managers in London and beyond to seek scheme status. A two-year assessment period takes into consideration legislative changes, providing an opportunity for comprehensive evaluations aligned with evolving standards and regulations.


It’s estimated that approximately 70 per cent of first responders to incidents involve private sector providers, including security staff. This underscores the crucial need to ensure the proper implementation of systems, policies, and procedures, including a coordinated evacuation plan for fire and life safety.

The Building Security Assessment Scheme offers a cost-effective, valuable and independently approved opportunity for multi-tenanted commercial premises to address both present and future threats. By doing so, it enhances the safety and security of all building occupants.

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