Youths warned about dangers of damaging power lines

23 September 2014

Youths warned about dangers of damaging power lines.

Officers in Bishop Auckland are warning youngsters about the dangers of vandalising overhead power lines following a number of incidents which have seen tree branches thrown onto 20,000 volt electric overhead cables over recent months.

Police are working with partners from the Northern Powergrid to educate students in local schools about the potential life-threatening consequences of this type of anti-social behaviour and the impact the damage has on local power supplies and businesses.

These actions can also cause operational issues at the sewage treatment works in the area and can result in pollution to the River Wear.

PCSO Chris Elms, from Bishop Auckland neighbourhood policing team, said: “Over the past few months we have been called out on numerous occasions to deal with the consequences of damage to the power lines. When the tree branches hit the lines it causes an electric flash which blows the fuse and shuts down the power to Newfield sewage treatment works, creating significant impact on the operations there.

“We have stepped up patrols in the area, but our main focus is on educating local people, particularly youths, on the dangers of this sort of behaviour. If the problem persists we will be taking stronger action in the form of pursuing prosecutions.”

Nigel Walker, Northern Powergrid’s vulnerable assets manager, said: “These reckless acts could so easily cost someone their life. Not only are they causing deliberate damage to the electricity network, disrupting people’s power supplies, but the power lines are carrying thousands of volts, and coming into contact with them would lead to serious injury or worse.”

Alastair Tawn, Northumbrian Water’s treatment works manager, said: “We welcome the work that the police and Northern Powergrid are doing to tackle this serious and dangerous issue which can have a devastating impact on lives and the environment. This irresponsible behaviour causes operational issues at our sewage treatment works in the area. Resolving these issues uses up precious time and can result in unnecessary pollution. We urge those involved to listen to the police’s warning and advice.”

Anyone with information that might help police trace those responsible for the damage is asked to call 101, or in an emergency dial 999. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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