CCTV’s role in farm protection

Issue 1 2022 Agriculture (Industry)

The basic principles of design of any CCTV system installation remain the same, whether installed at an office park, a warehouse, a factory, a suburban home, a farmstead or anywhere else.

Laurence Palmer.

1. The basic five Ds of security

To deter. Observation of your security footprint should deter a would-be criminal or attacker and convince him to move on.

To detect. If he persists and breaches your perimeter, you need to have systems in place that will indicate this and give you the early warning time to react.

To delay. The physical security elements, fencing, walls, gates, burglar bars etc, should be strong and secure enough to delay the intruder’s access to your property. These elements should also be clear of shrubs and tall grass, which create hiding places. Again, giving you enough warning and time to react.

To deny. Again, we need a strong and secure physical security system that will deny the intruder access to the protected property

To defend. The safest method of defending yourself and your property is to firstly have a safe place that you and your staff or family can retreat to and once safe, have the communications and ability to call for back-up.

And the sixth: To detain. If the intruder persists further on to the property with a particular objective in mind, you need to have a plan in place to detain the Intruder. The safest being to call for back-up or a response team whilst you and your staff and family etc. remain in a safe place.

A properly planned and installed CCTV system in conjunction with other elements of security will facilitate all the Ds, plus one more very important element, that of evidence.

Deter the intruder

You have seen the CCTV warning signs displayed at business premises all over the cities and shopping centres. They display their message as a deterrent to would-be criminals to be aware that they and their actions will be ‘caught on camera’ and if they have broken the law, they will be prosecuted as a result.

The business owner is satisfied that he is doing the best that he can to protect his premises and staff from criminal elements that may wish to harm them or illegally take possession of his merchandise.

Detect the intruder

The question raised is, is the CCTV installation adequate and effective and does it live up to the expectations of the owner/manager, or has he just ticked the CCTV box on the monthly head office return?

Will the images be of sufficient quality and clarity to be presented as evidence in a court of law? Will the images stand up to intense scrutiny by the defence team? Are the cameras in the correct position to capture images of the illegal/unauthorised individual when he commits a crime, or is he able to avoid being recorded by slipping under the camera view, spraying paint over the lens, knocking the camera out of position, or wearing a cap or hoodie?

Evidence potential and retention

CCTV is not a silver bullet against crime. It is, however, a very valuable and effective tool in the security practitioner’s toolbox if:

• It is the correct camera, with the correct lens and technical specification.

• The camera is mounted in the correct location and position.

• The camera has a reliable power supply.

• The recording and evidence retention equipment is of good quality and technical specification.

• The recording retention period is adequate for the situation at the premises.

• Provide a secure lock-up for the recording equipment and an off-site back-up of data.

• Ensure a secure and reliable communication system, both on and offsite.

• There is a reliable and effective inspection and maintenance procedure in place.

• There is a reliable local source of spare parts and service back-up.

• Does the manufacturer provide a redundancy plan to keep the system and equipment up-to-date with the rapid rate of technical development taking place?

• Is the system cost-effective and good value for money?

• Do you buy or lease? Lease will often include a redundancy provision.

• Obtain client referrals in respect of the company that you are dealing with.

• Is the management involved and interested in helping you find the best solution to your problem, or do you only see sales personnel interacting with you?

You cannot expect to have an effective CCTV system and with it, the expected crime solution by calling in the nearest salesman and buying a CCTV camera or set of cameras. It will cost you a lot of money and it will not work.

What is the solution?

Let’s go back to basics:

• You must plan and Plan and PLAN.

Conduct an independent risk assessment of your premises.

• Identify the risks and threats you are exposed to.

• Develop a multi-faceted, multi-pronged solution.

• Determine how the CCTV camera system will slot into the other security elements that are in place and how it will support them and contribute to the overall result.

• To be economically acceptable to the company bottom line, a CCTV camera system should be designed to work effectively and productively for at least five years and with a redundancy plan built-in for at least 10 years.

• Out-of-warranty maintenance is a big problem and needs to be planned and catered for.

• Your assessor will tell you that the CCTV camera is a ‘force multiplier’ and so it is, but if it saves you a security guard at a critical position, then it must work 100% of the time.

Selecting equipment

The variety of technical options available in the market are so diverse that only an expert can decide on the best camera and system for your particular application. The farm owner has additional challenges that the city owner does not have.

The location of the farm in a rural area is a challenge in itself. But there are solutions:

• The problem of a reliable power source can be solved with solar panels or a wind-driven solution.

• The problem of distance and cabling can be solved with radio communications.

• The movement of an unauthorised intruder can be detected by invisible intelligent beams.

• The latest generation of thermal cameras can detect and record evidence with minimum lighting.

• Intelligent beams are independent and can be located a distance from the farmstead perimeter for effective early warning.

• Alarms can be received offsite and response organised.

Managing the CCTV system

Like everything else that we as humans utilise to manage our lives, the CCTV system must be managed in order to obtain the benefits thereof. There is no sense in having a top-class CCTV system and nobody there to react to the signals or images produced.

• Modern technology allows for remote off-site monitoring of the system.

• Individual cameras can be switched on or off and can be observed via cellphone links off-site.

• Alarms can also be received and identified off-site.

• Include fixed and portable panic button alarms that can communicate off-site to neighbours and community response resources.

• Monitors can be installed in various strategic locations within the homestead and off-site, if required.

The correct type of camera, installed in the right place, with adequate lighting; with a secure power source, with secure communications, with quality recording and pro-active alarm indication, is a successful CCTV installation.

Proactive over reactive

I am appalled at the number of resources wasted on the reaction effort to an attack on a farm, versus the pro-active effort put in place to prevent or to ward off such an attack. Don’t get me wrong, we have to have a reaction plan and need to support the victims, but the effort is out of proportion.

• Establish a community-based organisation that can plan and resource the pro-active effort in the district.

• Establish easy communication with all local and regional formal organisations and response services.

• Know your neighbours and their neighbours and their neighbours.

• Each homestead or farm should have identified pre-determined escape routes and cut-off points.

• Coordinate and plan with the police to maintain high levels of cooperation and support at all levels.

• Alarms must indicate status of the attack so that the correct response is launched.

• Response must first and foremost be to the nearest cut-off points.

• Response to the scene must be restricted to the police and selected neighbour.

• The more persons at the scene, the greater chance of contamination of the scene and loss of possibly critical evidence.

• They must have a safe place to retreat to in the event that the security barrier is breached.

• The residents must have easy and effective access to an off-site alarm raising mechanism.

• The farmer must manage his/her own activities in such a way that he/she is not vulnerable.

• Establish a network of informants both formal and casual and collect information.

• Solve problems at the lowest level, avoid escalation and dissatisfied workers.

The last in the series by Laurence Palmer will be printed in the Residential Estate Handbook 2022 (published in March 2022) and will include a risk assessment template for rural security.

This article is the opinion of the author and is based on the latest information available and his previous and current efforts to prevent farm attacks. For more information, contact Laurence Palmer, +27 73 954 4450,


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