The Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council’s mobile CCTV squad and the police have joined forces in a summer-long campaign to crack down on antisocial behaviour around the locks and bridges of the River Great Ouse. Starting this week Huntingdonshire District Council’s mobile CCTV van will become a common sight around the county’s waterways in a bid to stop the growing problem of vandalism.
This is the second year that the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council and the police have joined forces against lock vandals. Last year’s campaign led to over 30 youths being apprehended and four prosecutions. In just one evening’s surveillance, a group of 23 youths were recorded trying to smash the pointing doors at Godmanchester lock. All were given warnings by the police and the Environment Agency began prosecution proceedings against the ringleader.
The state of the art CCTV van has two long-range cameras as well as infra-red capabilities – making it possible to record in the dark. It also boasts an automatic number plate recognition system, and can be used when the vehicle is on the move. The message from the CCTV team is that there really is no place to hide.
Frank Cannon, Huntingdonshire District Council’s CCTV manager said: “We will be constantly monitoring the locks, bridges and other vandalism hotspots along the River Great Ouse throughout the summer. The van can see over very long distances and cannot always be clearly seen, so the best way to avoid being caught is not to mess about around these sites in the first place.
“But we’re not there just to spoil kids’ fun. Many of these river structures can be extremely dangerous, and if we can help prevent someone being seriously injured or killed then we have done a good job.”
Nathan Arnold, Waterways Team Leader for the Environment Agency said: “Unfortunately instances of vandalism and other antisocial behaviour, such as lock jumping, always increase during the summer months, when the weather is good and the summer holidays are in full swing.
“Not only can these episodes leave us with hefty repair bills, and ruin other people’s enjoyment of the rivers, but they can also lead to serious injury. Jumping from locks and bridges is extremely dangerous and there are a number of deaths every year that could easily have been avoided.
“We hope that through this surveillance and a hard line approach we will be able to greatly reduce the number of incidents and make sure the river remains a safe and enjoyable for everyone.”