Anti climb spikes have a role as part of effective perimeter security – but the law means you must be careful that they don’t injure anyone, including intruders. Fire and Safety Centre explains how to protect property and stay within the law.
When I was a child, broken glass was the preferred method of intruder deterrent on top of walls around industrial premises. Yards and yards of shards were set into concrete, jagged edges uppermost, to put off anyone thinking of climbing over.
At the time I could never understand why; those bottles had a value, taken back to the shop for the return of a deposit of a few pennies. What I overlooked, of course, was the value of the assets being protected inside, which far outstripped the few coppers the glass was worth.
Today the value of assets to be protected has soared, making stronger perimeter security even more important. However, legislation has grown stronger too, giving the owner or operator of the land a duty of care to people on the premises. That’s why we see no broken glass, but more fence spikes and similar anti climb products.
The 1957 Occupiers’ Liability Act started it all, and covered visitors with a legitimate reason to be there. No-one has ever been charged with an offence under it, because it’s not a criminal law – but anyone injured could use it as a basis to sue you.
Security spikes: the duty of care to intruders begins
Intruders came into the picture with an updated version of the same law enacted in 1984, specifically covering personal injury to trespassers. It extended the duty of care to protect everyone, including thieves, who might come into contact with a hazard – and that includes fence spikes or similar security on top of your perimeter wall as part of a security armoury for your premises.
Anti climb spikes law: how to protect yourself against the law
But the same law also says that duty has been discharged if you’ve warned people that the hazard exists, and that they can see it. Therefore, anti climb spikes on top of the wall are allowed, so long as you’ve added a notice saying something like:
‘Caution: danger of injury from fence spikes’.
And that makes perfect sense; you’re not trying to injury anyone, just to stop them from climbing your wall, so fence spikes and a sign are a more effective deterrent than fence spikes alone.
An example of what wouldn’t be allowed is carpet gripper strips fastened to the inside of the wall just where someone might put their fingers to climb over.
What anti climb spikes are available?
A Stegastrip has a clever design feature and is made of strong polypropylene giving a commanding presence. Fastened rigidly to the top of a wall or fence, their spikes will cause discomfort to anyone climbing over them. Fastened back to back in pairs and fitted to a Stegastrip post, they’re not only painful to climb, but rotate as well, making climbing all but impossible.
A Prikka Strip is less conspicuous, but no less effective. Again made from polypropylene, they’re designed to cause as much discomfort as possible without physical injury. Offered in a range of colours they can be fitted to any kind of perimeter wall or fence, and there’s even a slightly wider design variant to fit neatly on top of a brick wall.
Passers-by need protection too
Also worth considering when protecting your perimeter is the Highways Act 1980, within which Section 164 talks about ‘injurious toppings’, and keeping innocent passers by safe from them. The list covers:
• Barbed wire
• Razor wire
• Broken glass
• Branded security products
– but it excludes prickly shrubs, which can have the same effect, but are not mentioned in the law.
If any of these present a hazard and are less than 2.4 metres from the ground, a local authority can order their removal.