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Sharing Information about Security

We can better protect our collections if we all share our knowledge. Sharing information both within our own museums and with external colleagues will add to our collective knowledge about threats and control measures. If visitors are aware that you take security seriously it willreassure them as well as deter thieves from attempting to steal from your collections.

Communicating about Security with Colleagues in your Museum

Effective security relies on good communication within your museum: maintaining a strong security awareness across the museum will emphasise the need for all staff to take responsibility for security. It is important to ensure that security is integrated into the daily management of all museum activities, ranging from staff and volunteer induction, to staff training and everyday awareness-raising about security issues and threats.

Museum wide staff and volunteer security awareness will be evidenced in a range of places in your museum, including:

Mission and policy:

  • A mission statement which encompasses care and safeguarding of the collection
  • Governing body endorsement of strategies and policies which support collections security

Staff and volunteer management:

  • Induction for new staff
  • Exit procedures for departing staff
  • Job descriptions

Staff awareness and training events:

  • Staff meetings
  • Maintenance procedures
  • Housekeeping rotas
  • Building maintenance schedules

Collections management:

  • Loan agreements
  • Location and movement control of objects
  • Collections inspection schedules

From the visitor perspective you will evidence the fact that you take security seriously by:

  • Maintaining a visible security presence, for example by using visible CCTV or employing security personnel, or discussing security in displays and on your website. The methods you choose will depend on your resources and circumstances
  • Visibly caring for your buildings, its surroundings and your collections. In doing so, you will be sending a message to thieves: if a building and its contents are well maintained then it is likely that its security systems will also be well maintained

Sharing Information about Security with Colleagues in other Museums

There are many ways for people who work in museums to share and benefit from each other's knowledge, and to communicate more widely about security issues.

  • The National Museum Security Group (NMSG) is the principal UK communications channel for the sharing of security information by cultural heritage organisations. If you belong to a cultural heritage venue, large or small, and you have responsibility for security it is recommended that you join this group on behalf of your venue. Membership of NMSG is free. You will receive sector relevant security news and alerts, and be given access to a secure online platform where you can report crimes directly to the police , and upload and view images/CCTV of suspects.
    Museums, libraries with special collections, and archives are eligible to join NMSG - to be accepted as a member you do not have to be a security expert, you just need to have responsibility for security at your venue. To join, contact Victor Batalha ([email protected]), giving your name, organisation, title, and confirming that you are responsible for security .
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs), or sometimes called Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) involve small teams of police officers (usually 10-15 strong) who are dedicated to policing a community or area. There are 3,600 NPTs throughout the United Kingdom. This type of policing is designed to make the police more visible, reduce fear and aid interaction between the public and the police, and it aids in local knowledge, gaining intelligence and tip-offs from the public. It may be useful for your museum to make contact with your local NPT, so that they are aware of your museum and the collections you hold.
  • The Linked In Collections Management Group currently has thousands of members worldwide. To join the group you need to be a member of Linked In. The Linked In group is a good way to discuss security issues with colleagues, or to send out questions about security.
  • The Art Loss Register is a permanent computerised database of stolen and missing works of art, antiques and valuables. ALR operates on an international basis and will register stolen art, and provide searches of their Stolen Art database, for a fee. If you are acquiring art and want to check provenance, or have art stolen it is a good idea to use this service. If you are a Participating Collection in the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) project, the PCF will supply copies of images of the paintings in your collection with the relevant data, to the Art Loss Register, to be held on their database. This will ensure that these paintings, if stolen in the future, will be more easily traceable.
  • The Museum Security Network distributes news and information about cultural property protection and security. Daily information is posted on www.museum-security.org, and you can sign up to email digests.
  • The London Stolen Art Database is maintained by the Metropolitan Police, and contains details and images of items of stolen art, antiques and cultural property. Apply to the Metropolitan Police to search the database for a specific object.
  • The Antiques Trade Gazette is the art and antiques trade weekly newspaper, providing the latest in market information, news and analysis. The website carries a News section which alerts readers to recent thefts, and advertiesments regarding thefts can be placed in the newspaper.