Perimeter Security

Physical perimeter security can be defined as systems and technologies that protect people and assets within a facility and its grounds by blocking unauthorised physical intrusions across the perimeter. Achieving effective perimeter security requires the creation of layers to defend and deter potential attackers.

Historically, castles and palaces which were of national or regional significance were built on high land, surrounded by water and only accessible via a single entry and exit points, manned 24/7. In today’s urban world, this is not practical but, the principles remain the same.

A perimeter comprises a fence line, the inner territory perimeter, the building or asset itself, the external building shell and any internal perimeters. Each layer should help to delay, deter and detect intrusion.

Security schemes differ depending on whether the solution is for an urban or an industrial environment. Care needs to be taken within an urban area to ensure a scheme does not create what’s known as a “fortress mentality” or inhibit daily operation.

The extent of the number and security level of each layer implemented will depend on the site or asset needing to be protected.

Perimeter Security

Considerations for Perimeter Security Design

Vehicles: do vehicles need access to the site? Does the site also allow pedestrian access – if so, how will this interaction be managed? Traffic patterns, types of vehicles, peak times, flow rates, access requirements and authorization level (vehicle versus driver) will also need to be considered.

Pedestrians: do pedestrians need access? Foot flow patterns, density, preferred routes, how to manage pedestrians with vehicle movements and compliance with the ‘Equality Act 2010’ (superseded the DDA) need to be considered if applicable.  The stipulated clear gap between vehicle barriers along a perimeter within the PAS 68: 2013 standard is 1,200 mm which, has been deemed acceptable, subject to agreement with the building control body.

Thought must also be paid to the design of security measures so that visitors or employees with impaired vision can identify perimeter security barriers and can navigate a route through safely when on foot.

Can access and interaction for both pedestrians and vehicles be made more efficient? Can landscaping measures be utilized to reduce or mask the security threat?

Check whether there are planning applications approved within the immediate area which could result in a change of use or the surrounding landscape. This may possibly alter the risk profile of your site so be aware of any future planned development.

Identify possible challenging locations or areas of the site. Areas which may have more than one threat, multiple uses or a physically challenging environment for installation (limited foundation, underground services etc); identify access routes and any external, vulnerable assets which might need protection outside of the core infrastructure itself.

Assessing The Need For Multiple Layers Of Perimeter Security

The extent of the number and security level of each layer implemented will depend on the site or asset needing to be protected. If the site is considered the highest of security sites, any asset at risk of terrorist or intrusion activity will need to be independently assessed.

If the main threat is from vehicular attack, security measures will likely focus on external perimeters and vehicle access points. Or, if the asset being considered is a remote and highly valuable site with many vulnerable facets, physical security may focus on protecting both the perimeter and building itself from intrusion – asset hardening.

Defence-in-depth concentrates on creating layers of security so that a hostile assailant can be slowed in an attack scenario. This creates time for first responders to arrive at the scene of the attack. This is just one security methodology; each site is unique and needs to be assessed independently.

Development of security products continues to be innovate and measures can be incorporated into hard landscaping, street furniture and even pieces of art if required. Some assets may, for their own protection and anomality need to conceal any security measures utilised so as not to draw attention to their status/vulnerability.

Most important of all, security measures should fit in with a sites operational requirements. An holistic approach to cover the overall physical requirement from the entrance to the asset which is protected. Gates, Bollards, Blockers, Fencing, Covers, Cages, Building Hardening often referred to the “ Onion Ring” should work in harmony to support a sites security objectives and to enhance, not hinder daily operation. All measures invested in should be proportionate to the residual risk and appropriate to the environment.



What are the Different Options when Looking to Secure a Perimeter? 

An external perimeter can be secured utilising a wire rope fencing system, palisade or mesh fencing or fixed security bollards. The determining factor when considering a suitable product is whether the site requires pedestrian access and if you must prevent people from seeing inside your site.

The security level of the external perimeter depends on the type of threat you are mitigating. If it is an intrusion; force and vandal tested products are sufficient. If the threat is from hostile vehicles, impact tested solutions are recommended.

It is very rare that a site can afford to operate by excluding vehicle movements entirely. Because of this, access to the perimeter may need to be granted by authorised personnel and vehicles (emergency service vehicles, employees, visitors and delivery drivers) and high-security access may be necessary. Entrance security measures can be used in conjunction with under-vehicle scanning within a ‘Tiger-Trap’ arrangement if the application demands it.

To increase the security of an existing or new building, high-security access doors, window bars and louvres can be installed with multiple access control options for authorised personnel. These can be coupled with detection devices where appropriate.

There may be external buildings to consider within a perimeter. These can have building hardening measures such as mesh cages or can sit within security-hardened kiosks. Again, these can be enhanced by any number of access control measures for authorised personnel.

Finally, if a site includes other vulnerabilities such as access to a network of utility hatches or water supply, high-security access hatches can be installed to protect against vandalism or mitigate contamination risks.

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Security Experts

Adam Savage

Adam Savage, Perimeter Protection, Security Expert

As Sales Manager for Barkers Fencing, Adam has been with the company for over twenty years. Starting as an estimator, Adam was soon moving through the ranks and dealing with high level, specialist projects within the Critical National Infrastructure sectors.

Moving from commercial markets, assisting fencing contractors, Adam began to utilise his knowledge of security products and testing standards to move into a more specialised role working alongside specification managers and architects.

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