I thought I would write a Blog post about the fence cutting tweet I put out as it’s had a good reception from the Spotter/Photography community, but has also raised some questions that I would like to answer.
Fence cutting is far from a new problem, it’s been happening for years and happens nationwide. However a recent spate in the last month or so at three different bases prompted me in to saying something about it.
At its most basic it’s entirely unacceptable and constitutes a Criminal Offence, namely Criminal Damage, but it’s worth noting that if it’s considered to affect the security of an airbase other and more serious offences could be considered by the authorities. It also gives the majority of law abiding photographers a very bad name. I can see how issues like litter and parking in front of Crash Gates could be problems caused by people outside the spotting community, but it’s hard to see how holes in fences at Photography spots that just happen to be the same size as the end of a camera lens could be attributed to anyone other than photographers!
The authorities involved are likely to be prompted into action that would make it harder for us all to enjoy our hobby. They tend to respond quickly and use cable ties to secure the holes as seen in the pictures. However it won’t stop there. New temporary fencing has already appeared at Crash Gate 1 at Coningsby making it harder to photograph through/over. They are also likely to become more hostile towards the community, which is in part understandable.
If anyone has any information about this issue or witnesses anyone cutting a fence I think it’s very important that we act on it. We need to be seen not as part of the problem, but as part of the solution. Spotters are uniquely placed to see suspicious activity around secure sites and could provide vital information to the authorities in such situations. The following is my personal advice about what to do but please note this isn’t official or agreed upon advice from the authorities which may come at some point in the future.
If you see someone cutting a fence at the time, note a description of the person/s and/or vehicles and call 999. This is because someone is commuting an offence at the time. The force control room is likely to contact the base but you could follow this up with a further phone call to them yourself.
If you have information about previous incidents there are several options you may wish to consider. You could call the police on 101, crime stoppers on 0800 555 111 (or online here) or contact the base either in person at the guardroom or on the telephone. I would ask to speak to the RAF Police Flight however at times they may not be available to take your call so ask to speak to someone about airfield Security and I’m sure they would be willing to help you out and be grateful to receive the information.
RAF Coningsby Switchboard: 01526 342581
RAF Waddington Switchboard: 01522 720271
RAF Scampton Switchboard: 01522 733113
We can all help with other issues around the base too, these include suspicious activity, litter, Crash Gate obstruction, illegal parking, trespassing, obstruction of highways, failing to comply with traffic control measures, standing under flightpaths of aircraft landing/taking off. Please only be in a place you know you are legally entitled to be in, it is our right to enjoy our hobbies free from unlawful obstruction by the authorities but this will become more difficult if we are seen as the problem and not part of the solution. Keep safe, use common sense and if it comes to it be prepared to do your civic duty if you witness something suspicious or illegal.