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Urbex guidance

What is urbex? Short for Urban Exploring, it’s a relatively recent activity in which individuals (typically teenagers and young adults) make video recordings of themselves which they edit and upload to social media. A guidance note (121) from the retail property sector body Revo sets out what property owners can do.

Their trespassing does not look like going away. As the note points out, although many urbex videos breach the published guidelines of the social media platforms on which they are broadcast (content being dangerous, unlawful and/or anti-social) – complaints to the hosts are routinely ignored, so that the video content remains available. Most urbexers use GoPro cameras (small cameras designed for use with active sports with video editing software). Some also use drones and many have professional camera kit. Many urbexers have significant numbers of subscribers or followers on social media (a few active in the UK have over a million) and even get sponsorship from fashion brands.

While urbex was until recently about entering empty and spooky places or climbing high or prestigious buildings with good views, such as the (pictured) London Stadium – an intrusion onto its roof in 2016 by ‘Night Scape’ has had seven million views and counting – urbex has evolved to play “hide and seek” with security officers, or go around shopping malls on unorthodox transport, such as mopeds, and again evade security before leaving. Or, the explorers may hide in cinemas, theme parks, indoor ski centres, swimming pools and water parks, and ten pin bowling alleys and film themselves enjoying the facilities after closing time.

As the note says, in the UK this is not a criminal offence – so the police rarely show any interest – but a civil matter. The usual remedies for trespass in the civil courts are an order for possession (yet the urbex trespassers are willing to leave when stopped) or an award of damages (but the explorers do no damage).

While injunctions to restrain trespass at shopping centres have to be prepared with particular care, those involved in urbex do respect civil injunctions. Just as they avoid committing criminal offences to avoid arrest and prosecution, they also avoid trespassing on buildings which are protected by injunctions.

injunction to restrain trespass is usually obtained on an “interim” (or temporary) basis before being converted to a final order at trial. In appropriate circumstances where there is an imminent risk of trespass, an interim injunction can be obtained before proceedings have been issued and without giving any advance notice to the defendants. A “without notice” interim injunction can be obtained within a few hours of instructions.

For the document in full visit the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) website.

Meanwhile Guidance Note 122, ‘Crime Reporting Systems’, covers business crime reduction partnerships (BCRPs) and policing in town centres. It outlines the key requirements of IT crime reporting systems and their installation; and suitable systems on the market.


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