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Why Police Forces Recommend Anti Climb Paint


Police forces throughout the UK recommend the use of anti climb paint. In this post we look at why they make this recommendation and answer many commonly asked questions about anti climb paint.

Anti climb paint is also known as anti vandal paint, non-drying paint, anti burglar paint and anti intruder paint. As noted in our subsequent FAQ section, anti climb paint is a form of non-setting paint that remains greasy and slippery. Applying this to surfaces, such as walls and poles that might attract intruders, makes them impossible to climb.

Why Anti Climb Paint is Needed

Anti climb paint is one of the key security measures recommended and implemented to bolster security and combat a variety of crimes.

In Suffolk, the elderly residents of a dementia-friendly facility were being terrorised by youths gaining unauthorised entry to the building. On one occasion they threatened a resident with a knife and a vital hearing loop system was damaged. A number of security measures were implemented including the immediate application of anti climb paint.

In Lancashire a special education needs school was subjected to a spate of vandalism that sadly impacted the pupils’ education. The damage they caused cost the school £17,000 in repairs. A number of effective security measures were put in place to protect the school including the application of anti-climb paint.

Vandals were also responsible for causing extensive damage to a community park in Peterhead. To protect against further occurrences a new fence was installed, painted with anti-vandal paint.

Residents of an estate in Watford, home to primarily people aged over 50, were plagued by youths causing intimidation, vandalism and using drugs - since 2019. They’ve put together a widely supported petition demanding security improvements including the use of anti-climb paint.

In Cumbria an increase in metal thefts has already affected a number of churches in early 2023. Specialist insurance provider Ecclesiastical is urging churches to review their security and implement practical protection measures including the use of anti-climb paint.

And in Hertfordshire schools have been warned to take precautions to protect against anticipated crime over the summer. Beefing up perimeter security and using anti-climb paint are amongst the security recommendations.

The popular ‘Ask the Police’ website answers this question: "Can I use anti-climbing paint on a building or wall to prevent trespassers and anti-social behaviour?"
- with the following answer:

Yes, it is perfectly legal to use anti-climbing paint although there are a couple of factors which should be considered when applying the paint:

You should make sure the anti-climbing paint starts at a reasonably high level so passers-by do not damage their clothing inadvertently.

Warning signs should be clearly posted wherever there is paint in use. These should be posted to protect the company or householder from being sued in a civil court, e.g. to protect themselves from civil action for any damage to clothing.

The notices should be simple enough for a reasonably young person to understand as, apart from intruders, they are the ones likely to be trying to climb up.

On their page addressing the subject of church crime West Mercia police acknowledge how churches are particularly vulnerable to thieves as they are often open and unattended. In their exterior security recommendations they state:

You can…
apply anti-climb paint and anti-climb devices to fall-pipes not less than eight feet from the ground, and display notices saying so.

Suffolk Police offer a valuable business security self assessment guide that includes this recommendation. 

Use Anti Climb Measures From plastic spikes to anti climb paint, these permanent measures will make it difficult for intruders to enter the grounds or premises. Often these passive security systems may be enough to ensure the opportunist burglar goes elsewhere. Note: anti climb paint should only be painted on roofs that are at least 2m from the ground.

And Thames Valley Police provide an excellent home security guide  that includes this anti climb paint recommendation.

Using anti-climb paint or fixing trellising to the top of solid fences and walls can make it more difficult for a burglar to climb over. Do not use barbed or razor wire as you could be held legally responsible for any injuries caused. 

anti climb paint with sign
Anti Climb Paint and Warning Sign

Anti Climb Paint FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about anti climb paint.

What is Anti Climb Paint?

Anti climb paint is a thick, glutinous, non-setting petroleum gel based paint that remains slippery after application. Its painted thickly onto surfaces to prevent them from being climbed. It is purposely dark in colour as this enables detection of those who have come into contact with it.

How Does Anti Climb Paint Work?

Anti climb paint, or anti vandal paint, doesn’t dry or set like standard forms of paint. A thick layer (around 3mm) is applied to surfaces to prevent them from being climbed. The petroleum gel based paint remains slippery making it impossible to get a firm hand or foothold on the surface to which it has been applied. Applying this protective paint to poles, walls or other surfaces makes it impossible for intruders to get a grip and gain unauthorised access. 

Is Anti Climb Paint Legal?

Anti climb paint is legal to use in the UK, which is why police forces recommend it. But its important to be aware of the Occupier’s liability act 1984. This makes it clear that householders have a duty of care to anyone on their property, including intruders. Householders must ensure that anyone on their property is protected from injury from any foreseeable hazard. This means that if someone was to slip and injure themselves due to the use of anti-climb paint the householder could be liable as this is a hazard they could have foreseen.

Also, the Highways act makes it clear that care must be taken to avoid causing harm or injury to any person or animal using the highway. This means that if anti climb paint is applied to boundaries, such as walls or fences, it must be ensured this can’t affect anyone who uses the highway.

To meet these legal requirements anti climb paint should be applied at least two metres above the ground to prevent people from accidentally coming into contact with it. Furthermore, clear warning signage should be displayed to let people know anti climb paint is used. 

Do You Need a Sign for Anti Climb Paint?

Displaying warning signs to tell people where anti climb paint has been used is an important requirement to stay on the right side of the law. Anti climb paint warning signs also act as a powerful anti-climb deterrent.

Does Anti Climb Paint Come Out of Clothes?

Anti climb paint is based on petroleum gel that will stick to clothing and skin. It can be very difficult to remove from clothing which is why its a good idea to wear old clothes when applying it. But careful use of a solvent, such as white spirit, along with thorough washing can be effective. 

Does Anti Climb Paint Wash off?

Anti climb paint is water proof, so it doesn’t wash-off from the surfaces to which it is applied. If it is on skin then a suitable solvent may be needed, along with thorough washing, to remove the stain.

Does Anti Climb Paint Work?

Anti climb paint is also known as anti-burglar paint, anti-vandal paint and anti-intruder paint because it works to prevent burglars, vandals and intruders from gaining unauthorised entry. It is widely recommended by police forces because it works exactly as it is expected to. 

How Long Does Anti Climb Paint Last?

The longevity of an anti-climb paint application is dependent on many factors including the environment in which it is used and how thickly it was applied. It can be reasonably expected to remain effective for many years and Insight Security has clients where the paint has provided ongoing protection for over five years. Re-application is relatively simple as there is no need to remove the previous coating as this will work as an effective undercoat.

Where is Anti Climb Paint Used?

Anti climb paint is used exclusively for exterior applications. It is widely used to prevent climbers from accessing areas where they are not allowed. For example, school buildings where there is a need to prevent climbers from getting onto rooftops. It is also widely recommended and used for protecting church rooftops from thieves who want to steal roofing materials. And it is increasingly used to add protection to poles to protect pole mounted equipment, such as cameras and solar panels, from thieves. Many properties that need to protect their perimeters and premises from unwanted intruders (such as parkour enthusiasts) are now using anti climb paint. 

Will Anti Climb Paint Keep Animals Out of My Garden?

People often want to know if anti climb paint is a good option to keep animals, such as cats and foxes, out of their garden. Anti climb paint is not effective or appropriate for keeping unwanted animals out of a garden.

Is Anti Climb Paint Toxic?

While anti climb paint is not toxic it isn’t suitable for use around ponds and aquatic environments. And while anti climb paint doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients it should not be ingested by animals and therefore shouldn’t be used anywhere cats, dogs or other animals may get it onto their fur. 

Can I Put Anti Climb Paint on My Fence?

While it is legal to use anti climb paint on a fence the previous recommendation to only apply the paint to surfaces above 2 metres in height means it shouldn’t be used on most low level fencing.

Is Anti Climb Paint Effective in the Hot Summer and Cold Winter?

Anti climb paint is suitable for using in temperatures ranging from -15 degrees celsius up to 35 degrees celsius. This makes it effective all year round in the UK. 

How is Anti Climb Paint Applied?

Anti climb paint must be applied in a thick coating, around 2 to 3mm in thickness. Using a disposable paint brush is the recommended method. Suitable gloves should be worn along with eye protection and ideally old clothes or protective clothing.

anti climb paint
Buy Anti Climb Paint


Where Can I Buy Anti Climb Paint?

Anti climb paint can be bought from our online store here.

If you have any questions about anti climb paint and how it can help you remember we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.  

This message was added on Thursday 6th July 2023

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