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Perimeter fencing is only one part of overall security at Heathrow

Perimeter fencing is only one part of overall security at Heathrow

15th July 2015

As designers and installers of high-security perimeter fencing to a wide range of clients, including schools, UK major events, and industry, we’re always interested in keeping up with the latest news to see if there’s anything new we can learn. From experience, we know that security fencing is an effective deterrent to would-be intruders in most cases. Still, we’re also the first to admit that perimeter fencing alone won’t keep out someone determined to breach any security measures in place, regardless of the consequences!

Cut through the security fence.

Take the recent incident at Heathrow Airport when a dozen members of Plane Stupid, a group opposed to plans for a third runway, managed to cut their way through a perimeter fence and stage a lie-in protest on the northern runway that lasted for around seven hours. The protestors tied themselves together and lay on the tarmac as police tried to prise them apart. As a result of the breach, some 21 flights had to be cancelled, and the cost to Heathrow – one of the world’s largest and busiest international airports – is set to run into the millions. The cost to passengers is harder to calculate, but any delay or cancellation is inconvenient, to say the least.

So what went wrong?

An investigation into how the group was able to get onto the runway is now underway. The incident clearly raises serious concerns about security at Heathrow, which is supposed to be under 24/7 surveillance. The protesters cut through the perimeter fencing at 3.30 am and entered the airport runway, which in essence, is no easy task and would have taken a considerable amount of time. How they could spend time cutting their way through without being picked up by CCTV cameras, PID systems or other intruder devices or physical patrols of the perimeter fence remains to be seen. However, it seems that the fence did what it was designed to do, namely act as a deterrent and make it hard – if not impossible – for intruders to get in. The weakness in Heathrow’s security appears to be a lapse in an overall integrated perimeter security system to ensure intruders are tracked and monitored for their own and public safety.