Tracking the evolution of physical security in the UK

The face of physical security technology and measures has changed beyond recognition over the last few decades. That evolution has been driven in part by a more extensive threat landscape; while instances are still relatively low, the risk of being the victim of crime or terrorism is greater today than in previous generations.


According to a recent market research report, the global physical security market is expected to grow from $110.32 billion in 2022 to $169.82 billion by 2030. And numbers from the UK government show the UK security and resiliency market is worth $15 billion and growing.


Physical security in the UK – the past (and present)

Statistics from the UK government show that 38% of wholesale and retail businesses in England and Wales report being the victims of crime in the year to March 2021, with theft (27%), assault/threat of assault (12%), and burglary (10%) the most common crimes. 


Those numbers mean businesses are always looking for ways to safeguard their people and premises. Here, we’ll look at how physical security has changed over the years, the trends that shape the industry, and some of the future innovations that are forecast to redefine how businesses safeguard their assets and ensure the safety of their personnel.


Locks and bars

Locks and bars formed the backbone of physical security measures for UK businesses for hundreds of years. Simple locks secured doors and gates, providing essential protection against unauthorised entry. Iron bars fortified windows, preventing break-ins. The method still endures as one of the most-trusted proven forms of defence, although today they’re often bolstered by digital access control technology, offering the best in old and new security. 



Similarly, the concept of safes dates back thousands of years. But today’s safes are a far cry from their primitive counterparts, evolving from wooden boxes with movable pins to sophisticated structures with double walls of steel and heat insulation. Modern safes are no longer just repositories for valuables; they also enable automatic cash deposits, reducing the risks associated with manual handling.


Physical security in the UK – the present (and future)

The changing threat vector to UK organisations means that locks, keys, and safes are no longer sufficient, at least on their own. Here, we’ll look at some of the most commonly-utilised safety measures. 


Bullet and attack-resistant screens

While rare, businesses in sectors like banking, retail, and critical infrastructure can be the target of violent attacks and, in the worst-case scenarios, firearms. These solutions effectively deter robbers and potential attacks, protect employees, and safeguard an organisation’s money and/or products. 


Bullet and attack-resistant screens are a key part of the broader security screen sector, which includes use cases like airports, government buildings, and vehicle security. It is a market expected to increase significantly in value in the coming years, according to figures from MarketsandMarkets, from $7.5 billion in 2021 to $10.1 billion in 2026. 


Security doors

Doors have been used as a security measure against bad-faith actors for centuries, but the technology behind them has changed immensely over time. Evolving from basic wooden frames to robust structures made of steel, iron, and reinforced alloys, security doors are used by organisations across the UK to bolster safety standards. Bullet-resistant doors, crafted with specialised materials, are now standard in sensitive locations.


Moreover, security doors now integrate with access control systems, allowing for keyless entry methods such as smart cards, biometric scanners, or keypad access. Integration with access control systems provides enhanced security and the ability to track and monitor entry and exit activities.


As organisations continue to invest in their security – often combining technologies to protect staff and assets – the global security door market is set to enjoy a period of sustained growth. Figures from the recent Security Door Market Current Research Report forecast the sector will grow in value at a CAGR of 7.99% over the next six years, from $12.35 billion in 2022 to $19.6 billion in 2028. 


Hostile vehicle mitigation

Recent years have seen a rise in vehicle-based attacks. To counter this threat, anti-ram posts and barriers made of sturdy materials like steel or concrete are strategically placed at entrances and public spaces, making it far more difficult for attackers to target the public or organisations. This kind of infrastructure has become a key component of security planning in the UK and further afield, especially in areas of high footfall or in locations hosting public events. 


Digital security systems

The digital revolution has fundamentally transformed the landscape of physical security. Key advancements, such as CCTV, have turned surveillance into a real-time, data-driven endeavour, offering both deterrence and invaluable insights for proactive security. Biometric access control systems have replaced traditional keys and cards, ensuring secure and impersonation-resistant access to secured areas. 


In addition, intrusion detection systems have evolved, utilising advanced sensors and machine learning to distinguish genuine threats from false alarms, while remote monitoring and management capabilities enable businesses to oversee their security systems from anywhere, enhancing situational awareness and cost-efficiency. This digital transformation isn’t just about security; it’s about empowerment, streamlining, and adapting to the evolving needs of the modern world.


The Safetell difference

The physical security market is a thriving industry, with many new players entering the market. However, very few have the proven experience and knowledge of the sector like Safetell. We’ve pushed innovation in the physical security space for 30 years and are proud to be considered industry pioneers. Whatever changes come in the following months, years, or decades, Safetell will lead from the front.

If you would like to know more about improving physical safety for your business, visit Safetell’s website here.