Bat blackout increases crime.

Posted: December 11, 2009 in Law & Disorder

IlieRobbers swoop on victims along canal towpath kept dark for bats.

Take note all you local councils who think it’s environmentally friendly to leave streets in the dark at night. Think of the council tax paying public falling victim to armed muggers and rapists.

Knife-wielding robbers have struck at least 14 times in the past two months on or near a towpath which has limited lighting to ensure the bats are not disturbed.

Gangs have attacked people taking short cuts or jogging along Regent’s Canal in Islington. In eight weeks, they have stolen thousands of pounds of goods including bikes, iPods, mobile phones, jewellery, laptops, watches and cash.

Police are mounting extra patrols and issuing joggers and walkers with panic alarms. The Met’s Marine Support Unit is patrolling the canal in rigid inflatables.

Detective Inspector Yasmin Lalani of Islington Robbery Squad said: “The canal is barely lit because it is a preservation area for bats.“There are several species and some are sensitive to light so it’s a question of balancing what kinds of lights you can put around the canal.”
She said of the robbers: “These offenders are dangerous. They don’t care who their victims are, or how old they are — they will target anyone who walks along there but we are taking robust action to deal with them.”

Police have made three arrests in recent days and recovered stolen goods.

Simon Bamford, manager of British Waterways in London, said many bats made their homes next to towpaths: “London’s canal network is a haven for wildlife, including many varieties of bat. Whenever we do install lighting we work with our bat experts to ensure that it does not adversely affect their habitat.”


A spokesman for the Bat Conservation Trust said: “Street lights affect a number of species. It tends to be more woodland bats. It can affect their feeding and they will move their flightpaths to avoid them, which can send them to a more dangerous area.”

Police are discussing the possibility of installing motion-activated lighting, to provide light for walkers while protecting the bats. An 18-year-old woman has been charged with robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.

More from the batty world of policing

IlieKent Police’s £23million Medway Headquarters in Gillingham and the £31million North Kent police station in Gravesend were constructed under private finance initiatives. Unfortunately the deals mean maintenance contracts for both are handled by a private contractor.
As a result, officers have to send off request forms or call a 24-hour hotline if they run out of toilet rolls or need a bulb changing. Hmmm, I wonder if the contractors give the police an incident number and then do nothing about it?

How much does it cost us taxpayers to change a police station lightbulb? A task for you Freedom of Informationers out there, contractors have charged the NHS up to £333 each time a bulb blows in a PFI hospital.


Ordering toilet paper
Advice on where to put crime prevention posters
Requests for new lightbulbs
Where to place rubbish bins inside the station
Advice on quantities of whiteboards and stationery to order
Advice on types of plants to buy and where to place them
Catering equipment, including new cutlery and plates

At North Kent station, managed by Reliance Secure Task Management, one officer said: “If you run out of toilet roll you have to create a worksheet to let someone in Gloucester – who works for the private contractor – know that they need to order more. ‘It is totally crazy – you waste so much time mucking around ordering stuff when it would obviously be a better use of everyone’s-time if we were out there arresting people.”

Yesterday a spokesman for Kent Police Authority said: “Medway was our first PFI and we readily admit there were problems and we did not get it 100 per cent right.”


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