WHILE a lot of attention is being focused on the Surrey Police initiative called Project Kraken – designed primarily to encourage a kind of neighbourhood watch on the river to spot possible terrorist activity – many local residents are still unhappy with the lack of a permanent dedicated officer on our stretch of the Thames.
Most still regret the removal of PC Jim Halstead, who was a common sight, sharing one of the Environment Agency boats, patrolling up and down the river.
So it’s probably no surprise that riverside dwellers have started to form close links with one of our local marinas, Penton Hook, in an effort to deter criminals.
I spoke to Penton Hook dockmaster Dave Whisson and a Laleham Reach resident – who didn’t want to be named – about the problems faced by those living beside the Thames.
The lady in question told me: “I was really sad when they took the decision to pull Jim Halstead off the river – and since he’s been gone, there has been a marked increase in the amount of crime and anti-social behaviour going on round here.
“Dinghies and outboards have been stolen, thieves took a chainsaw from a shed in the garden of one of the houses and stole a laptop and a motorbike from one of our neighbours.
“The problem is that we call the police and they seem to struggle to find Laleham Reach at all – and, of course, by the time they get here, the thieves are long gone.”
Another problem has been jet skis and powerboats racing, up and down the river.
Dave Whisson said: “That kind of behaviour damages the banks, scares nesting birds and upsets residents. So we’ve urged people to contact us so that we can keep a check on whether it’s boats from Penton Hook causing the problem. We’ve already had a couple of successes and have passed information on to the police.”
Strikes me as an excellent idea – perhaps other marinas or riverside businesses could join forces with neighbouring residents as well.
A group of Sea Cadets from TS Black Swan at Shepperton recently paid their respects to some of those who fought and died in the First World War on a weekend trip to Ypres.
Organiser Maddie Marchant said: “The weekend was an incredible success and both cadets and staff were a credit to the Corps. A lot of the people at the campsite had asked me what the youngsters were up to and in support, a lot of the campers followed them into town. It’s a 10-minute walk and the eerie sound of their boots marching through the quiet streets of Ypres made a lot of people come out of the houses to cheer them on.
“After the ceremony, many an ex-servicemen wanted to shake the cadets’ hands and thank them for being there.”
On the Saturday morning the cadets visited the Flanders museum while on the Sunday, they took a tour of the cemeteries and the trenches.
Great stuff – I’m always delighted to know that today’s generations are occasionally reminded just how much they owe to those who gave their lives in that terrible conflict.