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Damage to vehicles on A120

19 Jan 2021
  • There has been a rise in calls concerning damage to windscreens on the A120.

  • Officers from Hertfordshire and Essex are investigating the matter.

  • Members of the public are urged to report any suspicious activity straight away.

Police are continuing to investigate a series of damages to windscreens on the border of Hertfordshire and Essex.

Following a reduction in the number of calls around the issue on the A120 at the end of last year, calls to police have started to rise again in the past couple of weeks.

As a result, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Essex Police are moving to reassure people that the issue is being taken very seriously.

East Herts Neighbourhood Inspector Chris Hunt said: “There has been a lot of suggestion on social media that police are not taking the issue seriously and that nothing is being done, but I would like to once again reassure people that this is simply not the case.

“Since the first spike in incidents back in 2019 we have invested hundreds of policing hours to try and tackle the problem, working closely with our colleagues across the border in Essex. Some of this work has involved covert tactics, so just because you can’t see us, please don’t think we aren’t there.

“So far we have not found any evidence of who or what might be responsible for the damages, but we’re doing everything we possibly can, while also managing our other policing commitments to reduce crime and keep people safe.”

Work so far 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.

Acting Inspector Jenna Mirrington-French, from Essex Police, said: “We fully understand the concern these incidents are causing and we’re continuing to do absolutely everything we can to identify any potential suspects. Despite the constraints of the current climate, both forces are investing time and resources into resolving this issue.

“While we are arranging sweeps and litter picks of the carriageway to clear any debris, we’re keeping an open mind as to how the damage is being caused and need the public to assist us by continuing to report incidents promptly and accurately.

“If someone is found to be involved, they could be looking at charges of criminal damage with intent to endanger life, an offence which carries a mandatory prison sentence.”

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.
• Make a note of the exact location the incident occurred so it can be directed to the correct force 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

Essex

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