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Felixstowe: Water rage poses a new problem for rescue team

08:00 02 February 2013

John Cresswell, chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service.

John Cresswell, chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service.

Archant

RESCUERS who saved the lives of three people last summer are preparing to take to the waves for another holiday season of keeping the resort’s sea and beaches a safe place to enjoy.

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The Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol and Rescue Service’s annual report says the team dealt with 59 incidents last year – 20 of them where rescue was needed, helping 37 people.

Since it was formed in 1997, the service has now saved the lives of more than 60 people caught up in life-threatening situations and helped more than 1,400 involved in a range of incidents and accidents.

Last spring and summer the rescue vessel Guardian covered 3,815 miles and was active for 432 hours on 48 patrols, being tasked to attend incidents 14 times by Thames Coastguard and also working with the police, the UK Border Agency and wildlife experts.

Chairman John Cresswell said the season had been slightly quieter than 2011.

“We had another successful and eventful year, although the weather was against us,” he said.

“Even with the downturn in numbers using our beaches or going afloat, our incident figures were only slightly down on previous years. Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in the number of speeding recreational craft having to be apprehended and warned for breaking bylaws.”

In all, 32 craft were stopped for speeding and given warnings.

“We also had our first serious cases of anti-social behaviour incidents – water rage, which is reflective of the age we live in – one concerning two craft who passed at speed directly through the middle of the disabled Sailability Fleet off Levington,” said Mr Cresswell.

In another incident, the crew was secretly videoed while being threatened and verbally abused in an intimidating situation which within hours appeared on the internet.

A report and witness statements were sent to the police, Coastguard and harbour authority.

Mr Cresswell said it was “an extremely distasteful incident,” but praised his team for handling it correctly and professionally.

“It also sparked a national debate which gave us the opportunity in open forum to confirm that the Suffolk Coastal Crime and Reduction Partnership takes anti-social behaviour very seriously and to confirm the enforcement powers we have,” he said.

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