South Africans spend around R45 billion a year on private security firms, according to reports. With so much money being invested in private security it’s hardly surprising that more companies are springing up and getting in on the action. As a result, the private security industry in South Africa is one of the largest in the world with more than 9 000 registered companies.
With so many options available, choosing a security company may seem like a daunting task, but when it comes to home security you should conduct some in-depth research and apply some careful consideration to the offerings available in your area. You need to know exactly what you can expect to receive when you move from one provider to another.
“It may be a daunting prospect to compare the various options and it might be very intimidating, but the safety of your loved ones demands careful research before making that final selection,” says Fidelity ADT district manager (Cape Town north) Verena Hulme.
Is your firm regulated?
Find out if the company you are interested in is registered with a regulatory authority such as the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira) or the SA Intruder Detection Services Association (Saidsa).
Without oversight from a regulatory authority it may be difficult getting recourse or to exit a contract if you are not happy with the services provided by the company you contracted.
Hulme also recommends asking about the company’s presence in the area where you live, in particular the number of patrol vehicles allocated to it.
“You should also find out what training their officers receive and whether or not they have their own personal safety measures in place such as Kevlar helmets and vests for armed response staff.”
Security as an investment
The value of a home is generally driven by location, but nowadays property prices are increasingly impacted by the level of security on offer.
“Crime is not abating,” says Roy Alves, country manager of Axis Communications.
“People want to feel safe, they want to know that their homes and families are protected.”
Alves stresses the importance of engaging a professional provider.
“Although the right hardware is key, there is still so much more to security and surveillance than simply installing a camera.”
“And, with not all ‘providers’ privy to certain intricacies, this can, unfortunately, leave homeowners with a false sense of security.”
Besides increasing the potential value of your property, you also need to get the right equipment, in the event that something criminal does happen at your home.
“Deploying a reputable solution, through a professional provider, will also allow for credible and usable footage. Worst-case scenario, should an incident occur, one wants to be certain that one has access to reliable evidence,” explains Alves.
The last thing you want to do is sign up to a security firm’s offering that you aren’t happy with. However, some contracts are long term so you have to peruse the paperwork carefully and decide if that’s something you can commit to financially.
“There are a number of types of contracts that you can choose from, such as buying a system and paying for monthly monitoring, all the way to monthly rental of an entire system. Before you install a system, make sure you ask as many questions as possible from the sales person so that you install the best system for your and your family’s safety,” says Hulme.
Getting out of a contract should be possible, but if it’s not clear in the documentation, be cautious.
“The terms and conditions of a contract should be specific about notice periods. If it doesn’t explain specifically what notice periods are involved, you should not sign the contract,” advises Hulme.
If you are unhappy with the service you are getting and have no joy in resolving the matter with your security provider, then you should contact a regulator and lodge a dispute. “All reputable security companies are required to be registered with Saidsa. If you are unhappy with the service you receive from your security company, you should give them a chance to remedy the situation. If this does not happen, Saidsa will be ready to assist you,” says Hulme.