For many people their first consideration when looking at how to secure their home is to look at windows and doors. However, your first line of defence really should begin with perimeter walls and fences.
Ideally, you should be looking at erecting walls or fences which are high enough to prevent a potential intruder jumping up and grabbing hold of the top of the wall or fence to haul themselves up and over it but they shouldn’t be too high as once over the wall, the additional height offers the intruder an opportunity to conceal their activities on the other side so you want to ensure that your house is still visible. It’s also important to contact your local planning department if you think the height of your wall is going to contravene local planning regulations, as ignorance is no excuse and you could end up spending thousands of pounds on a wall only to find that it has to be torn down later.
Ways to Maximise the Security of Walls and Fences
It isn’t necessarily all about the height when it comes to the security provided by walls and fences. When used in combination with a wall or fence, there are other additional steps you can take to add to your security but it’s important to know what is and isn’t allowed.
Not only can trellises running along the top of a fence add a certain style, they also tend to be flimsy so that a potential intruder would be less inclined to try to scale a fence with a trellis on top because of the likely event that their weight would cause it to collapse underneath them which puts their safety at risk.
Nails, Glass and Carpet Gripper
There is no law to stop you from cementing glass onto the tops of walls, or hammering nails or carpet gripper into the top of your fence. However, you need to be really careful if you decide to adopt any of these tactics as you can still be prosecuted should anything blow off when it’s windy or as a result of poor workmanship and injure a passer by. You could also be faced with claims for damages under the Occupier Liability Act if any injuries as a result of this are caused to people who are legitimately visiting your premises, e.g. the postman or milkman.
Some people choose to put barbed wire on top of external walls protecting their home and, whilst this is perfectly legal, you need to be aware of restrictions in relation to walls which border public rights of way. The Highways Act 1980 states that barbed wire which is less than 2.4 metres from the ground is likely to cause a problem to highway users. Therefore, unless your wall or fence is at least that height, you should not install barbed wire as your local authority can legitimately force you to remove it.
Instead of using any of the above, a better solution is to put rubber spike strips on the top of fences. These can be glued or, preferably, nailed down and can be bought from most garden centres.
Well maintained thorny hedges are probably even better than any wall or fence at preventing intruders from getting into your home. As well as doing the job of a perimeter wall or fence, you can also plant them under downstairs windows to provide you with added protection. By also training creepers and other branches to grow along the tops of walls and fences, this eliminates the need for gluing or nailing spikes.
You’d also be surprised at just how many people take all kinds of security measures when it comes to walls and fences but forget to keep the gate locked or they leave ladders or other items nearby which a possible intruder can use to mount over a fence, e.g. milk crates. So make sure that you don’t leave any of these types of items lying close by your gate, as that’s like an open invitation to an intruder.
Keep walls, fences and hedges well maintained. A burglar can spot a gap in a hedge or a weak wooden panel or two a mile off. Also, use some kind of wedge on the inside of any fence where fence panels are kept in place between concrete posts. If your panels are not that wide or heavy, a burglar can lift them up above the posts and go underneath the gap without having to worry about climbing over.
Gravel paths/driveways are also a useful deterrent as it’s hard to climb over a fence or wall with loose gravel underfoot without making a noise which can alert you inside or any neighbours close by and security lighting systems which come on when a person is within range of them is added protection.
If you are in any doubt as to what you would/would not be permitted to install around the perimeter of your property, speak to your local crime prevention officer and your local authority’s planning department first.