Officials warn of the dangers of trespasses entering derelict or empty buildings over the summer months and the legal implication this can have on Property Owners.
Lighter evenings and warmer weather leave more teenagers and young people looking for things to do over the summer holidays. Empty and derelict buildings can be a magnet for young people, but the recent craze for urban exploration can lead to anti-social behaviour, further damage to property or injuries to individuals.
It is a property owners’ responsibility to secure empty property or sites. Whether the property is residential or commercial, by law, the owner has to ensure it’s safe for a member of the public to enter or pass by. Derelict buildings should be secure and made as safe as possible. Failure to do so could result in the Property Owner be liable, should a trespasser injure themselves while onsite or in the building.
Councils, police and fire and rescue services have come together to reach out to owners of vacant property. They are urging owners to ensure their buildings are as secure as possible, especially over the summer months.
Tig Outlaw, Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said “Many empty buildings are unlit and there is a risk of tripping or becoming impaled on railings trying to enter or exit a site. I would urge the public to report any sites of particular concern”
“Emergency services have to respond to all fires, and this includes those set deliberately in empty or unused properties.” Added Howard Watts, Senior Fire Officer. “Not only does it put our crew members at risk, it also means while we are responding to incidents of that nature, we are not able to respond as promptly to other emergencies.”
Backing the safety call, Superintendent Sarah Jackson from Hampshire Constabulary, said “We are working with partners to make sure that youngsters realise any empty building could have dangers inside and since these buildings are very often private property, they are trespassing.
“My message to owners is to make sure your site is secured and for the public to be aware of any suspicious activity. Although trespassing itself is not a criminal offence, it is often linked with criminal damage and anti-social behaviour, which we have a number of powers that we can use to tackle.”
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