Basingstoke Canal Watch

As a society, we know how important it is for the canal to be a safe place for all to enjoy. We were delighted, therefore, when Surrey Police were awarded the prestigious Tilley Award by the Home Office for their work in preventing crime on the Basingstoke Canal towpath.

The award was for the Business Support and Volunteers category, and was in recognition of a project that involved, amongst other things, the establishment of a Canal Watch. This sees local officers and volunteers patrolling the canal towpath on the lookout for suspicious behaviour.

Sergeant Ed Lyons, who leads the Canal Watch, described the work undertaken as ‘a multi-agency problem-solving approach’, going on to say that ‘the work has led to a lasting change.’ Indeed, the initiative was a strong collaborative effort, with work done across Woking Borough Council, Neighbourhood Watch, Basingstoke Canal Authority and the Basingstoke Canal Society.

In a statement online, Surrey Police said that ‘these projects were launched as a direct consequence of community engagement and allowed officers to build relationships and reassurance within local communities.’ A clear example of why it is crucial that we take care of our beautiful natural surroundings! When we all take an interest in maintaining and improving the canal, it becomes a nicer place for everyone.

Other new safety measures have involved the installation of extra CCTV cameras and signage, as well as the removal of overgrown shrubbery and graffiti. Additionally, officers and members of the canal watch now have access to electronic bikes. These allow them to patrol the area more quickly and efficiently.

Later this month, Surrey Police will present their project at the National Problem-Solving Conference, where an overall winner will then be decided.