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A recent, worrying story in the Brighton Argus newspaper has highlighted the dangers of Parkour or Free Running. The report focuses on video, shared from the TikTok social media platform, that shows a young man leaping from a 5 storey rooftop to an adjacent building. One of the shared videos presents the daredevil leap in slow motion, recorded from ground level, underneath the jumper. It is noted that a warning notice stating: “The action in this video could result in serious injury” has been presented along with one of the shared video clips.
The word ‘Parkour’ is derived from the french word ‘parcours’ meaning ‘route’ or ‘course’. It’s considered to be a sport which was originally called: Art du Deplacement. The term ‘Freerunning’ was adopted in order to make the sport more accessible to an English speaking audience.
Parkour is described as a non-competitive physical discipline of training to move freely over and through any terrain. Someone who practices Parkour is called a ‘traceur’ or the feminine form ‘traceuse’ which is derived from the French verb ‘tracer’ which means ‘to trace’. The practice of Parkour involves moving freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body. Freerunners use running, jumping, climbing, vaulting and other movements to negotiate obstacles efficiently.
Parkour.uk make this statement:
The sport aims to build confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility for one’s actions. It encourages humility, respect for others and for one’s environment, self-expression, community spirit, and the importance of play, discovery and safety at all times.
Watching top class Free Runners negotiate what appear to be insurmountable assault courses can be breathtaking. It’s doubtless that many are incredibly agile, confident, fearless and have outstanding skills. But unfortunately some are failing to show respect for other people by causing damage to property and putting themselves at risk of serious injury.
Free Runners often use rooftops, ledges, walls and other structures which were never designed to be climbed up or even walked on. Vaulting, jumping and running on objects and surfaces that were never intended for these activities, often causes significant damage. Those who perpetrate this form of vandalism are clearly failing to respect their environment and the property of others.
Property damage caused by Free Runners includes broken windows, smashed roof tiles, punctured roofing felt on flat rooftops, damaged wall cappings and fascia boards, buckled heating and ventilation duct housings along with damaged railings and balconies. Roof damage has resulted in leaks which have allowed rainwater to penetrate into buildings causing a great deal of damage. While a few foot prints an a freshly painted wall might be an irritation a punctured roof that allows rainwater ingress to damage valuables can be very traumatic and expensive.
It is estimated that the cost of property damage caused by Free Runners in the UK extends to many hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, the damage caused is often putting members of the public at risk. A broken roof tile falling from a 5 storey building and hitting a pedestrian could cause very serious injury indeed.
While there is currently no law that prevents Free Runners from using public spaces, if they cause property damage or they endanger others through their actions then the law does come into force.
Section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 states:
‘a person without lawful excuse destroys or damages property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage any such property, or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence’.
Local authorities and property owners need to be aware of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 which states that the same common duty of care is owed to all visitors and that the occupier must be prepared for children to be less careful that adults.
The occupier discharges their duty by:
‘taking such steps as are reasonable in all circumstances of the case to give warning of the danger concerned or to discourage persons from incurring the risk’.
There is the potential for property owners to be found liable for an accident if there were known defects and property owner was aware of a persistent presence of Free Runners but did little to bring a hidden danger to their attention.
This has led some local authorities to specifically ban Parkour from being practiced on council property. For example, following a series of complaints by residents, Horsham Council was the first authority to ban Parkour by issuing a Public Spaces Protection Order.
It’s apparent, from the recent report in the Brighton Argus and other UK news stories, that Free Runners are not adhering to the Parkour.uk statement requiring respect for others and other people’s property. Free runners are often attracted to structures that look challenging and dangerous and they sometimes don’t appear to have any concern for the damage they might cause. So what can be done to prevent Free Runners from damaging your property or causing themselves potentially serious injury?
Unfortunately there is no single solution which will suit all situations and requirements. Each site must be individually assessed to find out which solution is likely to work or whether a combination of prevention techniques is the best option. Here are some tried and tested, practical tactics which have worked for many.
Restricting access to premises and / or policing them with private security guards is increasingly popular, but will not always either be practical or cost effective as a long term solution.
The cost of CCTV systems has dropped considerably in recent years making security cameras a very accessible solution. The presence of CCTV cameras along with warning signage can be enough to deter Free Runners who will know that the recorded video footage could be used to identify and convict them.
Anti climb devices are widely used to protect perimeters and prevent people from climbing walls, fences and posts. But the use of aggressive, spiked anti climb barriers in situations where people are likely to attempt climbing over them is entirely inappropriate.
Roller Barrier is a totally non-aggressive yet highly effective anti climb barrier that’s already been successfully deployed to prevent Free Runners from causing damage to equipment and buildings belonging to a department store in Brighton city centre. The store had suffered thousands of pounds worth of recurring damage to roof tiles and other areas of their upper building due to Free Runners. They installed our non-aggressive “Roller Barrier” anti-climb product along selected points of the Free Runners route, including protecting balcony areas and roof edge sections. Subsequent Free Running attempts along the blocked route were completely unsuccessful and consequently further installation of this proven deterrent was carried out to successfully protect other vulnerable areas of the site.
There’s perhaps no better testimonial to the effectiveness of Roller Barrier than these comments which were posted on Facebook by some of the Free Runners whose exploits had been stopped.
…So Tootsies (the ID nickname used for this site) is pretty much ruined as a spot, the roof itself is still accessible (kind of) and the mission is doable but all but one of the jumps on the main part are now gone due to anti-climb rollers.
Tootsies is the name the Free Runners used for this favoured site. As this enthusiast reports - the site was ruined as all but one of their `jumps` were blocked by Roller Barrier. Here`s another:
…they`ve done a bl***y good job...
Many thanks to this commenter who recognised the excellent work carried out to protect these rooftop areas.
…wow, i never even knew those ant climber pole things existed
The `anti climb pole things` refered to here are of course Roller Barrier. Designed and developed by Insight Security. There were many more comments reflecting their frustration but the language used was not printable.
The deployment of Roller Barrier, to protect property from damage caused by Free Runners, has saved many thousands of pounds. It’s also helped to keep people safe, including the Free Runners who risk their lives leaping from 5 storey rooftops.
If you need help in protecting your property give us a call on 01273 475500. We are always happy to help.
This message was added on Thursday 1st October 2020
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500