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A120 damages update

16 Feb 2021
  • Officers in Hertfordshire and Essex continue to work together.

  • Patrols have been increased.

  • People are being urged not to take matters into their own hands.

Police are continuing their efforts to establish the cause of a series of damages to windscreens on the border of Hertfordshire and Essex.

Regular patrols of the A120 are continuing and the two forces are consistently linking in, to discuss the circumstances around reported incidents.

East Herts Neighbourhood Inspector Chris Hunt said: “We are continuing to do absolutely everything we can to establish how this damage is being caused.

“Alongside the usual patrols of the carriageway and woodland - both overt and covert - we’ve been utilising thermal imaging to seek out anyone who may be involved. So far, there is still no evidence to identify any suspects.

“Both forces are also continuing to liaise with respective highways colleagues to ensure the carriageway is cleared of debris more regularly.”

Insp Hunt continued: “Sadly, we are aware of posts on social media suggesting that people take matters into their hands. Whilst I can fully appreciate people’s frustrations, we would strongly advise against this, as you could end up putting yourself in danger. You could also end up being dealt with for criminal offences yourself if a situation was to escalate.

“Lastly, but importantly, I would ask people to please ensure they are providing accurate information when reporting incidents to police. Recently, a call came in reporting that a group of young people had been seen at the side of the road when an incident occurred.

“Officers attended the scene on blue lights, asked for information about the group and were told that no one had in fact been seen at the time.

“We would politely appeal for your patience while we continue to do everything we can to try and resolve this matter. Thank you.”

What to do if your windscreen is damaged:
• Report the incident to police as soon as possible. This should be done via an official reporting method and not via social media, or it will not be seen or recorded by police. If you believe you have seen a suspect, please dial 999 immediately.
• It is very important that you make a note of the exact location the incident occurred so it can be directed to the correct force without delay and investigations can be focused accordingly. Downloading the What 3 Words app can help pinpoint an exact location.
• Make a note of anything suspicious in the area at the time the damage occurred.
• Save any dash cam footage which may assist enquiries.
• Take a photograph of the damage so it can be examined, to try and establish how it was caused.
• Be mindful around what you post on social media. We have had incidents where people have claimed they have been “shot at” but could offer no evidence of a weapon being seen when asked for information by police.

You can report information by calling the non-emergency number 101 and asking to be directed to the relevant force.

Alternatively, you can report incidents online:

Hertfordshire - for any incidents that occur between the Stansted Road roundabout and the Stortford Fields roundabout.

Essex - for any incidents that occur on the bypass near Birchanger Woods.

Work carried out since the first spike in reported incidents back in 2019 has included:
• Regular overt and covert patrols of the carriageway and surrounding woodland.
• Utilising the quad bike to search off-road areas for any suspects or evidence.
• Using a drone to conduct several searches of the area.
• Speaking with local dog walkers and encouraging them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
• Working with forensics, ballistics and windscreen experts to examine some of the damage for any clues.
• Speaking with workers at local building sites and requesting them to fully clean all debris from vehicles before travelling.
• Working with highways to get carriageways regularly swept.
• Liaising with local schools to highlight the dangers.
• Visiting local housing estates.
• Other covert tactics which we cannot discuss.
• Conducting traffic surveys to establish how many vehicles use the road and what percentage of vehicles are being affected.

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