There are numerous manufacturers, importers and installers of the numerous elements of security available on the market. To ensure that our spend is as cost-effective as possible to obtain the best, most suitable and most effective element of security to protect ourselves, our family and our property, we need to assess what is needed, where it is needed and what is needed.
Beware of ‘sales commission’ driven solutions offered by self-styled ‘security experts’. Money spent on sourcing the correct element for your security is well worth it at the end of the day.
I am reminded of the local branch manager who was requested to check his security and report back to head office. One question was “is there a security fence?” The manager ticked the box ‘yes’. What did he have? He had what I call a conscience satisfier, not a security fence at all but a cosmetic fence that would not deter or delay the most casual of intruders. It is necessary to drill down to the very basis and structure of each element.
• Where is it designed?
• Where is it manufactured?
• Is the installer experienced and reliable?
• Are there spare parts and maintenance services available?
• What is the guarantee – read the small print?
• Is the system compatible with your existing system?
• Can the system be upgraded to keep pace with technical developments?
• Consider rental with a built-in maintenance and redundancy programme against the outright purchase with transfer of ownership rights.
Layers of security work from the outside to the inside with gradual and systematic strengthening and hardening of the security elements in place. Consider each of the elements listed below, assessing how the particular element fits in to your overall plan and solution. Is it relevant, does it achieve the aim, can I afford it, does it work, does it keep me and my family and property safe?
It is disturbing how many attacks are successful because the attackers break into the interior of the homestead without constraint, either through an open door, gate or window.
Physical security’s first layer
• External fence: Robust, difficult to cut, anchored into the ground, corrosion resistant and see-through. It must also be devoid of high grass, bushes and climb-over branches. There should only be the minimum number of gates required.
• Gates: Keep numbers to a minimum. The gate must be as robust, if not more so than the fence. The locking mechanism must be high-quality locks that open easily. If the fence is supported by an electronic system, ensure that it is equally effective over the gate and construct a vacuum gate, where the outer gate can be opened and closed remotely (if possible).
• Internal fence: Demarcate and fence the internal areas of the farmyard. This will make movement within the area more difficult and will give you more time to prepare your response. Gates and structure are equally important.
• Internal security: The homestead should be the last safe space within which to protect yourself, your family and property. Consider the type of burglar bars and how they are anchored into the walls. Spanish style bars are on the outside of the windows and offer a mounting base for small gauge welded mesh as a barrier for stones and petrol bombs. Install interior barrier gates in the passage to secure the bedrooms; create a safe room within the home where the family can retreat to; secure the communication infrastructure to prevent it being cut or disabled.
Electronic security, the second layer
• Lighting: Assess the need for and install perimeter lighting, area floodlights, directional lighting and set up auto-activation by time switch. The sudden, unexpected lighting up of the farmyard is a disturbing event when an attacker is moving under cover of darkness. Have external floodlights linked to the alarm system. Lights flood the access area and other critical areas when activated. External floodlights and CCTV cameras to be well situated and protected from damage and vandalism.
• Electronic support systems: Consider early-warning perimeter breach detectors through taut wire systems (high maintenance) or intruder detection infrared or wireless detectors (low maintenance) linked to various alarm systems. Voice response, either recorded or one-on-one, is also useful.
• A panic button (radio system) can be fixed at various locations within the home, can be remote and worn on a person or can be triggered by various types of detector beams.
• Modern CCTV is very advanced and many different systems are available. The most common available for the farmyard application would be a motion detection camera with auto-record facility, linked to a monitor (for observation) and recorder system (for evidence), secured in a safe place. Long distance detection is now possible and will be able to cover even the largest of farmyards.
• Communication: A reliable two-way radio system is vital. The system must be designed to cover the identified district and may need relay antenna to achieve this. A reliable generator or battery back-up is also essential. All persons, including the attackers, use cellphone communication. Ensure that there are additional units in the safe room and bedrooms in case a unit is disabled or removed. The local farm watch or community safety organisation should have a detailed communication plan for the region.
Other supporting elements, the third layer
The local farm watch or community safety organisation should have detailed support plans, response plans, communication plans and develop communications and co-operation with the police and other authorities. Mobile armed response teams cost money and need to be utilised as best as possible. By plotting each farm on a regional map, the obvious escape routes of the attackers can be determined. Plot the cut-off points and link these to the nearest response vehicle or responding farm security service. When the alarm is activated, those responders respond to the applicable cut-off point – leave response to the scene to the police. (If you can, convince the police to also buy in to the cut-off system of response. Average response time for farm security to the scene of an incident is 30 to 45 minutes.
It also helps remote houses to keep two large and two small dogs. Keep the small dogs inside. If the dogs bark, do not willy-nilly go outside. Assess and determine the threat first and respond accordingly. Also consider non-lethal defence like a taser, pepper spray etc. (It is too easy to end up at the wrong end of the law, while defending yourself with lethal force.)
At all times be aware of your surroundings and notice anything that is out of place. Investigate fully. Do not laugh anything off. Very often during a de-briefing related to an incident, you can be sure that someone will report that they noticed or experienced this or that but thought nothing of it.
This article is the opinion of the author and is based on the latest information available and his previous and current efforts to prevent farm attacks. For more information, contact Laurence Palmer,
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