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‘The last thing we want is a tragedy’: Police urge people to look out for others on the Broads

PUBLISHED: 17:40 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 17:40 09 November 2020

PC Paul Bassham out on patrol with Norfolk Constabulary's Broads Beat. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

PC Paul Bassham out on patrol with Norfolk Constabulary's Broads Beat. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Archant

The number of vulnerable people living in “make-shift accommodation” on the Norfolk Broads has increased but still remains a small percentage of those living on the waterways, police have said.

Boats left moored are more likely to be at risk of sinking. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyBoats left moored are more likely to be at risk of sinking. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary’s Broads Beat patrols the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and works with the Broads Authority to make sure those living on the waterways follow bylaws, are correctly insured and stay safe.

There are roughly 10,000 boats on the Broads at any one time.

PC Paul Bassham, the beat manager for Broads Beat said the vast majority of those who live on boats, live on comfortable, safe vessels but a small percentage were vulnerable and living in unsuitable accommodation.

He said: “It’s an alternative style of living, a lot of people come in and 99pc of people who live on boats are fine but 1pc are under the radar and they tend to be vulnerable people who have drink and drug problems.”

The number of vulnerable people living in “make-shift accommodation” on the Norfolk Broads has increased but still remains a small percentage of those living on the waterways, police have said. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyThe number of vulnerable people living in “make-shift accommodation” on the Norfolk Broads has increased but still remains a small percentage of those living on the waterways, police have said. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

PC Bassham, who has been involved with Broads Beat for more than a decade said officers regularly patrolled the waterways to carry-out welfare checks.

He said during the winter months the BA and his team increased the frequency of welfare checks.

PC Bassham said: “This time of year we start doing monthly checks because people need to keep warm and we put people in the right direction.”

He said some who lived on the Broads, especially those in makeshift boats were “one step away from homelessness” and had often lost jobs be it through coronavirus or other reasons.

PC Bassham said: “Rather than sleep in doorways they have found themselves on a boat because it can be attractive in the summer.”

He said in the winter months, officers often found people would find alternative accommodation, or stay with friends and family, leaving boats moored and making them prone to sinking.

He said while Broads Beat and the BA has a good relationship with boat owners and people living on the broads he encouraged anyone who was concerned about someone to contact the police.

PC Bassham said: “The last thing we want is a tragedy that could have been prevented, we’re not there to keep a big brother watch. We’re here to try and help.”


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