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The first line of defence

The first line of defence

28th September 2010

Paul Painter, Managing Director at fencing solutions specialist Zaun, discusses the importance of security perimeter systems and the role they can play in helping to protect the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure against the threat of attacks like terrorism, vandalism and theft.

There are a number of key challenges facing the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure when it comes to security. Firstly, it is a very attractive target for terrorists. The consequences if a terrorist cell manages to infiltrate a site could be devastating. For example, a utility company’s supply water could be contaminated or an energy provider’s power generation could be attacked. The knock-on effect of either would be severe. Another issue is the fact that the majority of the UK’s infrastructure is aging, which heightens the risk of cyber attacks if terrorists penetrate control of IT systems associated with power management.

This obviously pushes the importance of security to the top of the corporate agenda. There are a host of other challenges as well. According to reports, theft costs the sector millions of pounds each year, with criminals on the look out for anything they can cash in on.

Taking all the necessary measures to safeguard your facilities is therefore paramount. This is not only because of the financial implications that a security breach can cause, but the true cost of an attack is much worst. This includes the disruption it can cause to your day-to-day operations, the possibility of replacing stolen equipment or the aftermath of dealing with a crisis.

Another factor that must be considered is the well-being of your staff, customers and the local community around your site. Having suitable security measures in place to mitigate the risks of attacks and ensure people are as safe as possible is vital. A security breach that potentially scared, unsettled or hurt a customer or employee can have a damaging impact on your brand and reputation. Likewise with terrorism, the threat of this generates public fear.

There are a number of measures that sites of Critical National Infrastructure can adopt to help reduce the risk of security breaches. Simple things like better locks for example, right through to operating covert CCTV, will deter intruders from entering your facility.

One of the most important areas that will help you do this is the type of fencing you install around your perimeter and certain ‘higher risk’ buildings. The right fencing solution will provide a secure boundary and limit the number of access points a facility has, helping to provide effective management against a wide range of issues like crime and anti-social behaviour.

However, with a wide range of solutions on the market to choose from, what should you expect from a perimeter system?

For sites where security is less of an issue but a perimeter system is still needed then the most suitable solution is a standard mesh fence that uses 6mm or 8mm horizontal wires.

For applications where a higher level of security is required then there is a range of fencing solutions available that combine excellent aesthetic appeal with a host of security features, thus avoiding a ‘fortress’ look but giving you all the benefits you need.

Zaun’s Hi-Sec solution for example is designed to discourage intruders and this is reflected by its use by the Home Office for prison facilities. The design of Hi-Sec makes it almost impossible to climb and provides reasonable delay when attacked with hand tools.


For sites with the highest security concerns though, we have recently launched ArmaWeave. The range, which has received the Secured by Design (SBD) Award, is the first of its kind on the market that has been specifically introduced to set new standards in high security perimeter solutions.

Welding high tensile wire causes brittleness and very poor welds. Developed by our expert design team and manufactured at our production facility in Wolverhampton, the novel weldless manufacturing of ArmaWeave gets around this problem. It features state-of-the-art high tensile woven mesh fencing that requires no welding, providing the ultimate protection level for perimeter fencing with significantly improved delay when attacked with hand, power or non-contact tools than traditional welded mesh fences would stand up against.

Electric fencing can also be used in addition to any security fence to make the perimeter of your premises even more secure. These systems generate a sharp shock when it is touched, which acts as a powerful deterrent without any long-term ill effects.

The solution you choose will obviously depend on how much of a risk you feel your site is, along with the budget you have to work to.

Another issue that needs to be considered when selecting the right perimeter system is any planned or unplanned maintenance. Specifying and installing a high quality solution should minimise any unnecessary expenditure for having to repair or replace part of the perimeter system, particularly if this has been caused by intruders breaking through the fence. If this is the case, it may well have additional financial consequences if the intruders have stolen goods from your site.

At Zaun, we believe close attention to detail, high quality manufacturing and the ability to provide you with a first class service offering are the key factors when selecting a fencing solution. We go through extensive product testing and approvals to ensure our solutions meet the highest standards of performance and conform to all the necessary requirements like BSI and SBD.

We are also working towards the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) 1175 standard, which provides a rigorous vetting process whereby fencing systems are given an internationally recognised ‘mark of trust’ and are listed in LPCB’s Red Book that promotes products that can provide a reduced risk of security breaches, including burglary and vandalism.

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