First Line of Defence: Making Thieves Feel Exposed

Making thieves feel exposed when they approach your property can help. People passing by your unoccupied property should be suspicious of an intruder before he attempts actually to enter the building.

Similarly, restricting vehicles from being driven right up to the closed building will greatly assist in minimising your loss. What criminal would want to make several journeys, carrying the stock all the way to a car parked some considerable distance away?

Restricting vehicles from approaching the closed premises also assists in preventing ram-raid type offences.

Although not everyone can control the immediate environment surrounding their business premises, it is still worthwhile considering these points. Staff from other neighbouring properties may also wish to assist in a crime prevention project that would benefit you all, eg a shop’s location may not make it possible to restrict vehicles from approaching at night, but staff from several shops could organise security bollards to benefit them all and ensure pedestrians are safer.

Bollards – Standard PAS68:2010

To restrict vehicles approaching your property consider bollards.

If they have to be removable, consider all the different types on the market. There is little point in installing one that would break if a vehicle drove into it.

Raised concrete flower beds make an aesthetic alternative to bollards, as do ditches and even ponds in the right situation.

Fences – Standard LPS 1175

Thorny low hedges and low fencing (or transparent high fences) will increase security, as will outside lighting.

Most burglars break into buildings from the back. Good rear fences or hedges, coupled with a lockable side gate will help. The side gates are best positioned level with the front of the building so that they can be seen.

When choosing the type of fence you should consider the view neighbours or the public have of the front and rear of your property. A high fence may be difficult to climb over but can stop people casually observing your business. A low fence is easy to climb over but enables everybody to see a burglar.

Higher security fencing does not have to look oppressive. A galvanised palisade fence can be painted in colours suitable to the local environment.

A weld-mesh fence is similar to a chain-link type, but far more secure. Whilst being too small to obtain a foothold, the many small holes make the fence appear transparent. It is difficult and time consuming for potential intruders to cut the sections.

Barbed Wire

Barbed wire may be used to defend your property, but the law puts certain restrictions on its use. Section 164 Highways Act 1980, says that where on land adjoining a highway there is a fence made with barbed wire in or on it and the wire is a nuisance to the highway, a notice may be issued by the Local Authority for the nuisance to be removed.

Being a nuisance means that it is likely to cause injury to people or animals using the highway.

In practice, most Local Authority Highways Departments usually consider that barbed wire lower than eight feet from the ground could be a nuisance to highway users.

The term “Barbed Wire” means anything with spikes or jagged projections so would also include razor wire and the wooden carpet gripper strips which have nails sticking up through the wood.

If the barbed wire is not adjoining the highway and an injury results, you could still be faced with a claim for damages under the Occupier Liability Acts. Occupiers of premises have a duty of care, to people entering or using their premises. This duty even extends to trespassers, although it is not as extensive as it is to people lawfully using or visiting the premises. So a burglar, who could not be aware that barbed wire was on top of a fence and injured himself on it, could have a claim against you despite the fact that he was a trespasser.

If you wish to have some sort of barbed wire protecting your property, it may be a good idea to check with your insurance company that they would cover you in the event of a person claiming for an injury caused.

An important consideration is also people innocently hurting themselves on your barbed wire, eg a police officer checking an alarm activation or a young child trying to retrieve a football. This sort of injury could result in unwelcome media attention and thereby harming an established company’s reputation.

Electric Fencing

Electric fencing is not as unrealistic as may be first thought. There are now companies offering this product as a cost effective, viable option. Naturally, the electric fence has to be installed to defined specifications.

A specialist installation company could assist with further enquiries.


External lighting must be provided to all areas of the site in accordance with BS 5489. The spread of lighting should be evenly distributed with no areas of shadowing or pooling. Levels should be sufficient to support any CCTV systems in operation in the area.

Fittings should produce ‘white’ light, as opposed to yellow/orange light. Metal halide (or bulbs with a comparable output) should be used, as these offer superior colour rendition over alternatives such as high and low pressure sodium bulbs.

Lighting fixtures must not be positioned to provide climbing aids over boundary treatments. Dusk ‘til dawn lights, operated by photoelectric cell/daylight sensor, should be installed to all external doors.

This article is from ‘A Guide To Business Security‘ produced by Greater Manchester Police.