MARITIME security has been tightened at the seaside town of Watchet in Somerset following the launch of a new Boat Watch scheme using SelectaDNA forensic marking.
The Boat Watch initiative, which has helped to reduce theft and criminal damage in many boating communities around the UK, was set up in Watchet in response to a spate of thefts from the marina. One recent incident involved the local Sea Scouts’ base, which was broken into and £1,200 of gear, including two kayaks, was stolen.
The historic Watchet harbour dates back to Saxon times but has been refurbished with a state-of-the-art marina containing 250 berths for both pleasure craft and charter fishing boats. The new scheme involves the Watchet Boat Owners Association, Watchet Harbour Marina, Avon & Somerset Police and West Somerset Council. It has received funding from the Safer Somerset West Partnership.
On the day of the launch at East Quay, boat owners had their boats and expensive marine equipment security-marked using the latest SelectaDNA technology. SelectaDNA is an invisible liquid containing a unique DNA code, which is easy to apply and virtually impossible to remove. All items that were marked were then registered on a secure online database which can be accessed by the police. If an item is stolen, any traces of the liquid will show up under an ultra-violet light and, because of the unique forensic code, the property can then be traced back to its rightful owner.
Special Constable Simon Bale from Avon & Somerset Police said: “The launch went extremely well with a large number of boat owners attending with their property. Visiting boat owners from around the Bristol Channel were also present including many from South Wales. They were impressed with the scheme and how Watchet was dealing with marine-related theft, encouraging them to visit more often as a safe and secure place to berth their boats."
The Safer Somerset West Partnership also funded boat stickers, metal signs and hi-visibilty jackets. The signs have been placed around the marina to deter theft, while marina staff and local boat owners have been given the reflective jackets to wear, which bear the scheme's logo, as a further deterrent to would-be thieves.
SC Bale added: "Boat owners who want to have their details and property recorded and marked can still do so by calling in at the Watchet Harbour Marina Office."
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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