A CRACKDOWN on coastal vandals has been launched as part of a Neighbourhood Watch-style scheme.
Durham Coast Watch brings together everyone with an interest in the area, including people who live and visit East Durham, Durham Police, Durham County Council and landowners such as the National Trust and Durham Wildlife Trust.
It aims to help reduce the damage and danger caused by flytipping, badger baiting, illegal use of motorcycles and quad bikes, hunting with dogs and fires.
Other forms of antisocial behaviour and vandalism will also be targeted.
Inspector David Coxon, Peterlee’s neighbourhood inspector, said: “Working in partnership through Coast Watch, we aim to increase awareness of the damage caused by environmental crime and ensure visiting the Durham Coast is a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.”
He urged people to report incidents to give his team a picture of what is happening along the Durham Heritage Coast, with it possible to pass on information anonymously.
Coast Watch operates from Salterfen Rocks near Ryhope to Crimdon Beck and covers the car parks, paths, the beach banks and nature reserves.
“We’re seeing double figure increases in visitors to our coast each year,” said Durham Heritage Coast officer Niall Benson. “As more and more people hear about what we have to offer.
“And we know we need to work hard to look after our beautiful coast so visitors go away with a great impression of this area.
“Nowadays we don’t have the levels of environmental crime that we used to and we need to ensure that it’s snuffed out when it occasionally does still happen.
“Neighbourhood Watch has been really successful in East Durham and we’re hoping to replicate that on the coast.
The scheme was officially launched by Councillor Pauline Charlton, chairman of Durham County Council, at the Low Tide Day community event at Seaham Hall Beach during bank holiday Saturday.
To report damage caused by antisocial behaviour or crime, or for more information Coast Watch, call 03000 268 131.
The scheme also offers updates, crime prevention advice, invitation to the annual Coastal Forum and offers an opportunity to get to know the coastal ranger team.