Protecting your property - a simple task or a legal nightmare?
Trespasser - one who enters or remains on the real property of another wrongfully or without the owner's or possessor's authority or consent (Merriam-Webster)
Making the decision to install an anti-climb product on the perimeter of your land or property, or indeed on the property itself, should be relatively straightforward. After all, why shouldn’t we try to prevent unwanted visitors? From homeowners wishing to protect their homes and families, to transportation and utilities infrastructure experiencing increased levels of trespassing, everyone has their own reasons adopting a method or combined methods of perimeter protection.
For those living in vulnerable neighbourhoods that have been affected by crime, or who are concerned about the potential of crime, their thoughts will be centred around which product will be the most suitable or successful for them. Most often, the biggest contributing factor is cost which is why, historically, cheaper methods such as broken glass or carpet gripper were popular choices. In recent times however, Crime Prevention Officers are trying to steer people away from employing these for obvious reasons, but also due to the Occupiers Liability Act 1984.
The original 1957 Act placed a duty of care onto an occupier of premises, so visitors - invited or permitted to be on the premises - would assume they’d be safe. The 1984 Act went further in that said occupier would owe the same duty of care to unlawful visitors i.e., trespassers. These two acts are not criminal acts of law, and therefore you cannot be charged with an offence under these Acts. However, they can be used to take legal action against you if someone should be injured whilst being lawfully or unlawfully present on your premises.
All in all, it is not easy for the average person to decipher exactly what this all means for them in terms of choosing how to protect their property with an anti-climb product; to be vulnerable is a terrifying prospect, so to also accept that you have a duty of care to a trespasser can make that choice very difficult. Terms like injurious and non-injurious (very much open to interpretation) are often used and recommended heights of installation seem to be more generally accepted rather than something that is written in law, thereby sometimes creating confusion.
So where do you start when trying to make an informed decision on how to protect your property?
· Consider the level of risk that a given anti-climb product will carry. Anything too severe is best avoided to limit the liability you will carry after fitting that particular product.
· Consult your local Planning Department before carrying out an installation. They should be able to offer advice, particularly if the boundary where you plan to fit a product is adjacent to a public highway or public area, height restrictions etc.
· Adequate warning signs are VITAL in limiting your liability where anti-climb products are installed. This means signs that clearly indicate that a product is fitted, what the product is and the consequences if you continue to trespass despite the warnings. Consider also that not everyone can read, or understand English, so a graphic of the installed product as well use of icons such as exclamation marks can be very useful.
· Make sure that signs are placed at regular intervals - every 3 metres on a linear run is generally recommended - and are securely fixed. Check the signage regularly to make sure that it hasn’t been tampered with or removed. Photographs of the signs in situ are also a good idea.
· Speak to your local Crime Prevention Officer if you have concerns. They are experienced in advising and can provide information to assist with making an informed decision.
· Finally, bear in mind that every situation and installation is different and what applies to one will not necessarily apply to another. Always seek assistance if you are uncertain or need professional advice.
A flexible option that will give you peace of mind
DefendaStrip is a flexible, cost-effective, easy to fit anti-climb solution that when fitted with adequate warning signage will satisfy your obligations as a property owner whether chosen as a primary deterrent, or as a supporting option to other methods. Choosing an anti-climb product like DefendaStrip that holds Secured by Design accreditation will give you peace of mind. Secured by Design is the ﬂagship UK police initiative to help ‘design out’ crime using high-quality, innovative products and processes.
Contact us on 01424 400805 to discuss your needs or visit our Frequently Asked Questions section https://www.defendastrip.com/faq.