Barbed tape

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Barbed tape or razor wire is a mesh of metal strips with sharp edges whose purpose is to prevent passage by humans. The term "Razor Wire," through long usage, has generally been used to describe barbed tape products. While razor wire is much sharper than the standard barbed wire, it is not actually razor sharp. Even so, the multiple blades of a razor wire fence are designed to inflict serious cuts on anyone attempting to climb through and therefore have a strong psychological deterrent effect. In many high-security applications, barbed tape supplanted barbed wire, which could be circumvented relatively quickly by humans without tools, while penetrating razor wire barriers without tools is very slow and difficult, giving security forces more time to respond.[citation needed] There is little difference in the breaching time for a well-equipped opponent.[citation needed]



Starting in the late 1960s, barbed tape was typically found in prisons and long-term mental hospitals, where the increased breaching time for a poorly equipped potential escapee was a definite advantage. Until the development of reinforced barbed tape in the early 1980s, it was rarely used for military purposes or genuine high security facilities because, with the correct tools, it was easier to breach than barbed wire. Since then some military forces have replaced barbed wire with barbed tape for many applications, mainly because it is slightly lighter for the same effective coverage and it takes up very little space compared to barbed wire or reinforced barbed tape when stored on drums.

More recently barbed tape has been used in more commercial and residential security applications. This is often primarily a visual deterrent since a well prepared burglar can breach barbed wire and barbed tape barriers in similar amounts of time, using simple techniques such as cutting the wire or throwing a piece of old carpet over its strands. Residential usage of barbed tape has been criticized by some as the aggressive appearance of the barbs is thought to detract from the appearance of a neighborhood.[citation needed]

Due to its dangerous nature, razor wire/barbed tape and similar fencing/barrier materials is prohibited in some locales. Norway prohibits any barbed wire except in combination with other fencing, in order to protect domesticated animals from exposure.[1] Some local jurisdictions further regulate or prohibit barbed wire altogether.[citation needed]


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