Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Prison Escapes: Casanova, Billy The Kid & Midnight Express

Prison security is one of the most important applications for perimeter detection equipment. Human beings by their very nature do not like constraint so it's no surprise to discover that prisoners over the centuries have attempted all manner of escapes. So much so that Wikipedia has a page dedicated to the subject!

Accordingly, rather than write about a case study where our electric fence is being used as prison perimeter security, we thought we would digress and delve into a little history today :)

Amongst the many stories of successful prison escapes are some that feature infamous names:
  • From the 18th century - Casanova
  • From the 19th century - Billy The Kid
  • From the 20th century - Billy Hayes
Probably the most fascinating and incredulous is the story of Italian author and adventurer Giacomo Casanova who escaped from prison in Venice in 1757. He eventually and successfully made his way to Paris. His life had been an extreme one and his prison escape was no different!

He had been sentenced to five years imprisonment but after soliciting the help of the prisoner in the next cell (who was a priest), he effected an amazing escape. First he managed to pass to him a metal spike hidden in a folio Bible and carried under a heaping plate of pasta by a jailer.

The priest made a hole in his ceiling, climbed across and made a hole in the ceiling of Casanova's cell.  Casanova lifted himself through the ceiling and the two men made their way in heavy swirling fog onto the sloping roof of the Doge's Palace.

There was a sheer and long drop to the canal below so Casanova opted instead to prise open a grate over a dormer window and break the window. The priest followed. Using a ladder which they found on the roof and a bedsheet rope that Casanova had prepared, they lowered themselves into a room in another part of the building.
Casanova's roof escape
There they stayed until the next morning. They changed clothes, broke a lock on an exit door and found themselves wandering through the palace. When they came across a guard they used their wits and managed to convince him that they had been accidentally locked inside the palace after an official function. It was 6 am. They were allowed to leave and made off in a gondola!

Casanova himself was astonished at the success of his escape. Thirty years later he described it as "a wonder if not a miracle. I admit that I am proud of it; but my pride does not come from my having succeeded, for luck had a good deal to do with that."

In 1881 infamous outlaw Billy The Kid escaped from prison but his freedom was short-lived as he was captured and shot by Pat Garrett just a few months later.
In 1975, American Billy Hayes who had been convicted of drug smuggling in Turkey, escaped from  prison in Imrali. He used a rowing boat and successfully made his way via Istanbul to Greece. From there he was deported to the United States where, n 1978, he wrote a book about his experience. The book was made into a film - it was entitled 'Midnight Express'.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

National Trust to National Grid In The Security Alphabet

Creating a unique vocabulary for perimeter security where every letter in the alphabet is covered has certainly been proving a challenge and has brought with it a few surprises.

When we originally had the idea back in 2015 we honestly thought it might have its limitations - after all, perimeter security is not the most dynamic of subjects! However, we are delighted that since our first post in September 2015 entitled A-Z Of Perimeter Security which covered the letter A, we have been able to feature a wide and really interesting range of subjects.

Here are just some of the words we have been able to include to date:

Catalytic converters
Iron ore

Continuing on from that, today we turn to the letter N.


Our list of security clients includes several names beginning with the letter N and two in particular with the same word 'National':

The National Trust - the UK's biggest conservation organisation with around 350 heritage properties.

At one of their historic properties in Wales, 13th century Powys Castle, our Flexiguard™ system was installed outdoors to provide statue security. The castle gardens have a number of valuable statues that needed protecting against damage/theft and we came up with a bespoke design just for this one site. Follow the link to read more on what we devised.

National Grid - owner and operator of the National Grid high voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales is at the opposite end of the scale to historic sites, but every bit as important when it comes to having effective perimeter security in place.


Still drawing from our customer base we have Dutch Rail in the Netherlands for whom we solved a particularly frustrating security problem by installing our perimeter detection cable system.

You can read the case study here (English) and here (Nederlands).

So whether it's national or international, Advanced Perimeter Systems Ltd has it covered!

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