Underground Exploration Legal & Safety Information

July 18, 2010 5:05 PM ‐ UndergroundUrbEx

This article is more than ten years old and was last updated in February 2019.

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Higgypop presents research and information about interesting and unusual underground and over ground locations. The information, photos and videos contained on the site represents an online community of urban explorers and photographers.

Higgypop does not recommend visiting any of the locations listed on this website as sites that do allow public visits are very rare. Some of the locations are in the hands of the MOD and Military Police take a very dim view of unauthorised visitors. Some locations are privately owned, even abandoned sites can still have a security presence.

Some locations however are accessible but can be extremely dangerous places which should only be entered with experience and caution. Remember some locations are closed to the public for very good reasons, there are many hazards (structurally weak floors and roofs, asbestos, shear drops). Please read the safety advice below for further information on safely visiting underground locations.

If you visit any of the locations mentioned on our site please treat it with respect, these places are an incredible part of our country's history. As the commonly used phrase goes "take only pictures and leave only footprints".

It is recommended that if you wish to explorer any of the locations we list, that you join a specialist society or caving club which would be able to organise official and safe visits - Higgypop is not one of these organisations.

Safety Advice

Mines, quarries and other underground spaces are dangerous and should be visited with great care and appropriate preparation. In places the roof can be extremely unstable. It is possible to get lost in the maze of passages but this may be avoided by using a survey where available and keeping to suggested routes. To help avoid accidents and conserve the environment of these sites visitors should observe these basic rules:
Never touch any props/supports or displaced blocks - these may be supporting the roof.

* Avoid places where the roof is obviously unsound.
* Carry the correct equipment and wear suitable clothing (see below).
* Never visit the mine alone.
* Always let someone know that you are visiting the mine and your expected time of return.
* Let the same person know your intended route or area of exploration.
* Observe the privacy of those who live near the mines.
* Do not try to force an entry into Ministry of Defence or any other operational underground facilities.

Suggested Equipment

Higgypop suggests you take the following when going underground:

* Helmet or hard hat
* A boiler suite or protective overalls
* Sensible footwear
* A hands-free head lamp
* A 4-cell halogen torch
* A spare torch or lamp plus spare batteries
* A compass and maps where available
* A first aid kit
* Candles as markers
* A camera
* A bottle of water
* A mars bar

Urban Exploration And The Law

Trespass means going onto land or entering a building without permission. It is not a criminal offence, but a civil matter. Therefore it is nothing to do with the police. A person (e.g. a security guard) may use reasonable force to remove you, but only if they are on the land or in the building at the time. However it is a criminal offence to commit criminal damage getting onto land or into a building.

Act: Common Law
Subject: Trespass
Any intentional, reckless or negligent entry into land or premises is a trespass if the building or land is in possession of another who does not consent to entry. An occupier and those acting on behalf of the occupier are entitled to use reasonable force to remove trespassers from the land. This is a matter of civil law.
Power of Arrest: n/a

Section: 68
Act: Criminal Justice Act 1994
Subject: Aggravated Trespass
It is an offence for a person to trespass on land in the open air, and do there anything which is intended to:
intimidate so as to deter,
obstruct, or
disrupt persons engaged or about to engage in lawful activity on that or adjacent land in the open air.
Land includes highways which are footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks, byways open to all traffic (BOATS) or roads used as public paths (RUPPS). Does not include other highways and roads or any building.
s68(4) - A constable may arrest any person he reasonably suspects is committing the offence.
Max. Sentence Magistrates Court: 3 months / Level 3 fine.
Method of Trial: Summarily
Power of Arrest: Statutory Power of Arrest

Section: 1
Sub-Section: 1
Act: Criminal Damage Act 1971
Subject: Destroying Or Damaging Property
A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy of damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.
Damage less than £5000 tried summarily.
Max. Sentence Magistrates Court: 6 months and/or £5000 fine
Max. Sentence Crown Court: 10 years, 14 years if racially aggravated
Power of Arrest: Arrestable Offence

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