Okehampton’s CCTV footage helped police catch vandals

By Amy Hetherington   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 6th August 2022 4:00 pm
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CCTV camera
(the blowup on Unsplash )

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Okehampton Town Council announced this week that police had caught those responsible for some of the recent vandalism incidents in the town using footage caught by the new CCTV cameras.

In a Facebook post on Monday (August 1), the town council revealed that it was pleased to confirm that those responsible for the damage to the plants at Fairplace and, in a separate incident, damage to a bin in Simmons Park had been identified by the police.

Police confirmed that ‘positive action has been taken’ and that the culprits have received a community resolution, a way of settling minor offences outside court, and have agreed to contribute towards the financial costs of repairing the damage.

Officers are now well on the way to concluding their investigation into a third incident in Simmons Park during which the book swap was destroyed and a picnic bench overturned.

PC Matt Hawke, neighbourhood beat manager for Okehampton Police, confirmed that they had identified three suspects and were currently in the process of dealing with them.

He said: ‘All three incidents were able to have positive outcomes due to the recently installed CCTV. Without this it would have been difficult to identify the people involved.

‘Both the neighbourhood police team and the town council wish to highlight that the CCTV has been installed for this purpose, to keep people safe and to assist in the prevention and detection of crime.’

Town councillors have voiced their delight at the news and the hope that this will prove to be a disincentive to others.

Mayor of Okehampton Bob Tolley, said: ‘I am delighted to see all the time and work put in by councillors and staff into securing the CCTV project in Okehampton is paying off and these outcomes will act as a deterrent to any future potential miscreants in and around the town and park.’

Meanwhile, town councillor Jan Goffey spoke of her relief at hearing the news. She said: ‘Let’s hope this is the end of the stupidity of the behaviour - it’s not clever. It costs the town a lot of money and causes a lot of irritation to the park keeper who has to deal with this.’

The installation of CCTV cameras to deter acts of vandalism has been several years in the making and there are now six CCTV cameras across Okehampton and Simmons Park.

The decision came as Okehampton’s residents began to see an increase in anti-social behaviour, especially following the covid lockdowns, which saw play equipment damaged and park workers assaulted.

More cameras are set to be installed across other parts of the town in the second phase of the roll out.

The council has already started to work towards repairing some of the damage caused in past vandalism incidents, including the replacement of the park’s zip wire which was vandalised two years ago.

The new play equipment was officially opened by Cllr Tolley at a special opening ceremony as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations which took place this June.

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