Analysis: By GODFREY CHILABI
HOUSING ownership is a phenomenon which was previously considered to be a preserve for a particular elite class of people in Zambia.
However, during the past decade many parts of the country have seen an unprecedented number of residential areas and houses being developed.
The Zambia Police Service is pleased and encouraged to notice some levels of physical security and safety consciousness that some members of the public attach to their houses.
Security measures such as alarm systems, burglar bars, grill doors and residential fencing are common security features that characterise many housing structures in our communities.
Let us take time and explore around the concept of the residential security fencing as a measure to prevent break-ins and crime in general.
While others may argue that wall fences provide the much needed privacy, sense of ownership and safety, the question that arises is how much information do we have pertaining to residential wall fences in terms of recommended height and types.
There could be many types but let us focus on the two. Full or semi palisade and solid or full wall fencing.
It must be understood that before burglars or criminals steal, they study the targeted premises ‘intelligently’ carrying out a Strength Weaknesses Opportunity Threat (SWOT) analysis.
One of the key factors they take note of is that they should not be exposed to any threatening environment that would expose them when breaking into particular premises with intent to steal (the environment should not expose them as they steal or break in).
When police officers are doing their routine residential night patrols along the streets, they keep their eyes through and vigilantly observe what is happening around the houses.
Normally, police officers’ eyes should ‘scan through’ security fencing of various residences so as to know what is happening.
Imagine a situation where the house has a seven (7) metres high wall fence? This will definitely make it impossible for the police officers and even your neighbour who is three (3) metres away to notice any crime taking place in your yard.
These are some of the situations where criminals would go to the extent of driving into your backyard, spend 2 hours or more packing the stolen goods and probably prepare a meal before leaving.
From this perspective, it is indisputable that solid wall fences in many occasions facilitate the commissioning of house break-ins or burglaries. Solid wall fences deprive patrolling police officers of having their eyes keeping vigil at your house. These wall fences provide a conducive environment for criminals to hide.
A ‘see-through’ (full or semi palisade) type of fencing is imperative if house break-ins and burglaries are to be thwarted. In this case, a full palisade or a combination of semi palisade and semi solid are recommended.
Full wall fences in some situations are used to hide stolen property. It is not strange that the police have on several occasions recovered stolen property such as motor vehicles and other valuables within the same neighbourhood.
In summing up, crime prevention should start at the time you are designing your house. You must ensure that the architectural design of your house encompasses all safety and security aspects.
It should be noted that the information given above also applies to flower fences. The hedge should be of minimal height (at least 1.5 metres) as this would enable patrolling police officers to keep vigil of what is happening inside your yard.
The author is an Assistant Public Relations Officer- Zambia Police Service.