Newly installed life-saving equipment vandalised
New water rescue equipment has been callously vandalised in Biggleswade.
The equipment was installed last week near the weir as part of a joint initiative between Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Bedfordshire Police and Biggleswade Town Council.
Less than one week later, council workers discovered the equipment, known as a reach pole, vandalised beyond the point of use.
Kay Croft, of Biggleswade Town Council, said: “We are devastated that the reach pole has been vandalised beyond repair and will have to be taken out of action. We were proud this life-saving equipment had been installed in our community to try and help those who get into trouble in the weir, so we’re deeply saddened by these callous actions.”
The vandalism is believed to have occurred between 6.30 pm Monday (July 1) and 8.30 am Tuesday (July 2).
David Lynch, BFRS Area Community Safety Officer added: “We are shocked and saddened to hear this news and for it to happen in a small community like Biggleswade is very upsetting.
“We would appeal to anyone who knows anything of the vandalism or who has any information to contact police on 101.”
The addition of the equipment was part of a county-wide scheme to install rescue reach poles, throw bags or both in areas noted as high risk. Attached to water safety boards, it is being installed in 12 locations across Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.
Since 2013, In Bedfordshire, there have been over 20 incidents recorded as accidental drowning across the county and the Service attended more than 70 water related incidents.
The rescue equipment is kept in locked cabinets that can only be opened by a code obtained from the fire service, ensuring protection against anti-social behaviour. The code to unlock is given to a caller making a 999 call after they give the location of that board.
Superintendent Nick Lyall from Bedfordshire Police added: “It’s really disappointing to hear that the equipment can no longer be used due to vandalism. It’s in place so members of the public can help anyone who is struggling in water without putting themselves in danger, and it has the potential to save lives. It’s sad that the person or people who are responsible for vandalising it did not stop to think about that, and we are keen to find out who they are and why they did this.”