Tackling local towpath to improve safety measures

POLICE are making the Basingstoke Canal towpath in and around Woking feel safer.

Overgrown shrubbery has been cut back and CCTV cameras are being installed at intervals through the Brookwood to Sheerwater section of the canal.

Officers from Woking’s Safer Neighbourhood Team with Police and Crime Commissioner, Lisa Townsend

Two cameras are already operating, but more will be in place within months across the 13 miles of towpath being upgraded.

A series of reports of indecent exposures and suspicious incidents since 2019, particularly against women and girls, prompted an in-depth analysis of the area, which in turn led to the police and community action.

“No one should ever be made to feel unsafe when they’re out enjoying their local area and we are committed to making this a reality across Woking, and particularly along the Basingstoke Canal,” said Sergeant Tris Cansell, of Woking’s Safer Neighbourhood Team.

“I hope that residents, in particular women and girls, will feel reassured by the new measures in place.”

Also highlighted was the public perception that evidence of crime, such as graffiti and litter, contributed to parts of the canal path feeling unsafe by making them look and feel rundown.

Work has begun to remove graffiti, with the walls treated with a repellent for easy maintenance, and signage which promotes early reporting of suspicious incidents will be installed in the coming weeks.

Electric bikes are also being deployed to allow officers and volunteers from the community initiative Canal Watch to patrol more effectively.

The project has been funded by £175,000 secured from the Home Office’s Safer Streets initiative by Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lisa Townsend.

“Ensuring we improve safety for women and girls in Surrey is one of my key priorities, so I’m really pleased to see the progress being made in Woking,” the commissioner said.

“I first visited the area and met the local policing team during my first week as commissioner and I know they have been working hard with our partners to tackle those issues along the canal.

“It is fantastic to come back here a year later to see the huge effort that is going on to make this area safe for everyone to use.”

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