Vandals target life-saving equipment

VANDALS are continuing to target the town's riverside safety equipment despite repeated appeals to the public to leave the devices alone.

This week a local councillor has appealed to those responsible for the removal of a lifebelt in Strabane to stop interfering with the life-saving equipment.

Local rescue services also say the equipment is being routinely targeted and damaged - sometimes beyond use. 

Lifebelts are also regularly being thrown into the river with rescue service volunteers then required to put their own lives at risk in a bid to retrieve the items.

Sinn Fein’s Michaela Boyle, who is also Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, branded the culprits responsible for the latest incident as ‘thugs’.

She said those who are interfering with the equipment must understand that their actions could have tragic and fatal consequences for others in their local community should the need to avail of the lifesaving equipment.

She said: “Once again thugs with no sense whatsoever have removed a vital piece of life-saving equipment from the town.

“According to local rescue services this is happening on a regular basis. I am appealing to those responsible to please, please think before doing this.

“It could be your friend or your family member that could be at risk down the line and would have no access to life-saving equipment!”

Mrs Boyle said she had been in contact with council to have the equipment replaced urgently.

“I have asked for this situation to be looked at as it is happening far too often.

“This equipment has to be easily accessible for people but unfortunately the minority are taking advantage of this by removing it unnecessarily,” she added.

The PSNI, for its part, has reiterated that it takes the deliberate interference with life-saving devices seriously and has urged people to refrain from damaging the equipment.

Anyone who sees others tampering or in possession of a throw-line/lifebelt is asked to report it immediately to the PSNI.

Information can be passed on via the 101 non-emergency number or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 55 111

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