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Police step up patrols around Bishop's Stortford as more vehicles targeted by missile throwers

An upsurge in incidents which has seen missiles apparently thrown at vehicles from the side of roads around Bishop's Stortford has led to police increasing patrols using drones and quad bikes.

Motorists have reported scores of incidents over the past two years where vehicle windscreens were damaged by missiles, many of which occurred on the A120 bypass road which bisects Birchanger Wood.

Hertfordshire police say although there had been a reduction in incidents they have begun to rise again over the past couple of weeks.

Essex police recorded five incidents between December 16 and 31 on the road between the woods, along with Stansted Road and Dunmow Road. A woman also reported damage to her car windscreen at Birchanger Green Services on Wednesday (January 13).

Police patrol Birchanger Wood (44014248)
Police patrol Birchanger Wood (44014248)

Herts police issued a statement on Tuesday insisting they were taking the issue seriously, despite criticism from some residents.

East Herts Neighbourhood Inspector Chris Hunt said: “There has been a lot of suggestion on social media that police are not taking the issue seriously and that nothing is being done, but I would like to once again reassure people that this is simply not the case.

“Since the first spike in incidents back in 2019 we have invested hundreds of policing hours to try and tackle the problem, working closely with our colleagues across the border in Essex.

"Some of this work has involved covert tactics, so just because you can’t see us, please don’t think we aren’t there."

Drone footage of the A120 bypass through Birchanger Wood (44014245)
Drone footage of the A120 bypass through Birchanger Wood (44014245)

Insp Hunt added: “So far we have not found any evidence of who or what might be responsible for the damages, but

we’re doing everything we possibly can, while also managing our other policing commitments to reduce crime and keep people safe.”

Work so far has included:

* Regular overt and covert patrols of the carriageway and surrounding woodland.

* Utilising the quad bike to search off-road areas for any suspects or evidence.

* Using a drone to conduct several searches of the area.

* Speaking with local dog walkers and encouraging them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

* Working with forensics, ballistics and windscreen experts to examine some of the damage for any clues.

* Speaking with workers at local building sites and requesting them to fully clean all debris from vehicles before travelling.

* Working with highways to get carriageways regularly swept.

* Liaising with local schools to highlight the dangers.

Acting Inspector Jenna Mirrington-French, from Essex Police, said: “We fully understand the concern these incidents are causing and we’re continuing to do absolutely everything we can to identify any potential suspects. Despite the constraints of the current climate, both forces are investing time and resources into resolving this issue.

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