Dumping, damage or illegal occupation can be expensive and time consuming to sort out. Here are some ideas to stop it happening in the first place.
Fly tippers don’t care where they dump their rubbish, and if they spot an accommodating space they’ll happily take advantage of it. Many of them have probably charged some unsuspecting customer for disposing of their waste legally, with absolutely no intention of subsequently paying a penny at an authorised site. Squatters also take advantage of easily-accessible properties in order to live there rent free.
Seven top tips to help deter fly tippers and squatters
1. Identify your assets
Conduct a detailed security review of all occupied and unoccupied property and land for which you are responsible. And that includes machinery and vehicles. Then think how best to protect those assets to deter anyone wishing to damage, dump or occupy it.
2. Secure access and your boundary
Use a systematic approach of reviewing your premises starting with the boundary and working your way inwards. Look for vulnerabilities in the space between the perimeter, any outbuildings and the main building.
If trespassers can’t gain access to your site then they can’t occupy it. They will usually need to get vehicles on site, so fewer entrances will make the site less vulnerable. Ensure your boundary is robust and high enough to deter someone from climbing over it. We recommend a minimum height of 2.1 metres. Contact your local planning office for details of what height they specify as safe or the highest you can build without permission.
A strong vehicle height restrictor can stop large vehicles from entering your property. If the site is closed, you can prevent vehicular access to the entrance or boundary by securing it with heavy duty concrete blocks or bollards.
There’s a wide range of perimeter fences available with additional security features, such as lighting, which will protect your premises. Some fencing options have a top part that protrudes, making it difficult to climb, such as weld mesh (paladin), while allowing visibility through the barrier. Palisade fencing is not always recommended because it can be more easily tampered with and attacked.
3. Keep a watchful eye
An onsite security guard will provide a permanent presence and can quickly alert the authorities to any attempt to enter the property.
There are accredited organisations who can provide permanent occupancy of the building. Always be mindful of the personal safety of your staff and remind them to call 999 immediately in an emergency.
Having a monitoring station with remote access to the site means police and the local authority can be instantly notified of an illegal entry, with or without an onsite security presence. Ensure your CCTV and alarm system is an accredited system, correctly installed and positioned in a way that will both capture the site and any offences. It should not be in a position where it can be easily attacked or removed. Two industry bodies accredit reputable CCTV companies: the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
Ensure that your property has good lighting levels that are out of reach. Bollard mounted lights are not recommended as they’re low enough to be prone to vandalism and aren’t bright enough to sufficiently illuminate the face of any potential intruder.
4. Use your space wisely
Review your forecourt space and adjoining buildings. Consider parking vehicles or heavy-duty freight to limit the available space. If the car park is already full, it will be less attractive to criminals.
If you don’t have any vehicles or trailers large enough to do this, consider if there are any companies who could use the space to park their vehicles or freight and whether this a viable option for legitimately occupying the space. Parking vehicles close to, or in front of, entrances to buildings can reduce vulnerability by making them more difficult to access. Please ensure this is safe to do so in order to comply with fire regulations.
5. Disempower them
Utilities can be attractive to any would-be occupiers. Cutting off the electricity or water supply to the site, if they are not needed, may deter squatters. Be aware that disconnecting utilities will impact on any security features you have such as an intruder alarm or CCTV. You will also have to consider fire regulations.
6. Protect buildings within your site
Some buildings are targeted for illegal raves because of their halls, spacious dining areas etc. So it’s strongly advisable to secure all points of access.
The vulnerability of a building will depend on a number of factors including its location, local crime levels and the type of boundary that exists. If the site is close to the boundary, it will make it easier to target as there is no additional layer of protection.
Protect your doors and windows by using security-accredited shutters or grills.
If employing a security officer is not an option, consider using a timer switch to create the ‘illusion’ of occupancy.
7. Let them know
Placing signage on your premises can act as a deterrent. If you do have any security products in use on your premises – such as CCTV – place signage in a prominent position where it can be clearly seen.
Further information relating to enforcement powers for unauthorised encampments is available from the Home Office.