In the U.K., CCTVs replace security guards

Published 20 April 2009

Newcastle-based U.K. Biometric sees 10-fold increase for its CCTV cameras which can be accessed via remote devices; company says building firms are turning to the technology as a cheaper and more efficient replacement to employing overnight security guards

As managers in the construction sector struggle to balance their books, one technology company North East in North East England is enjoying a surge in demand for its cost-cutting security systems.

The economic downturn, which has had a devastating effect on the construction industry, has led to a growing trend of companies cutting costs by replacing building site security guards with hi-tech CCTV systems. For Newcastle-based U.K. Biometrics, which specializes in fingerprint-activated security systems, it has meant a 10-fold increase in inquiries for its sideline technology, CCTV cameras which can be accessed via remote devices. The company says an increasing number of building firms are turning to the technology as a cheaper and more efficient replacement to employing overnight security guards.

The technology can be accessed remotely or dialed into with mobile phones, meaning construction bosses worried about valuable materials and goods on their sites can monitor them around the clock. Meanwhile, U.K. Biometrics is gearing up for a period of rapid growth on the back of a number of new contract wins and is hoping to land new funding to fuel its expansion plans.

The company has won a lucrative deal to provide security systems — including locks activated by fingerprints — to a site near Hull, owned by BP partner Vivergo Fuels, which will eventually be home to a biofuels plant.

It has also won similar contracts recently with Winn Solicitors in Newcastle, Gateshead-based Pyeroy Group, and it is also supplying security systems to a new hospital development in Hexham. Managing director Matt James said: “We have had a huge uptake in people inquiring about CCTV. Crime is rising and people are looking to save money. If you have got a security guard on your site for an eight hour shift, you are going to need two or three security guards a day — we can replace that with one CCTV system. We are growing very rapidly which is why we need investment into the company. We are not short of opportunities and we are currently talking to the RDA about a grant to help us develop a new biometric reader. “Our aim is to create a business over the next three years that creates a lot of jobs in the North East with a turnover with a minimum of eight figures.”

James also said the firm has been forced to rethink its international expansion plans due to the unprecedented global financial conditions. Recent years have seen the business open an office in Dubai to tap into the Middle East market. The firm, however, has put this territory on hold for the time being. James said: “The U.K. changed last year. We are just going to focus on the U.K. We will keep Dubai on the back-burner and go back in a couple of years, I still get inquiries from there.”

UK Biometrics developed the world’s first fingerprint club membership system, installed the first fingerprint access system to a children’s nursery and was the first company to introduce biometric locks for a major housebuilder — Persimmon Homes.