Richmond residents and visitors are being asked to watch over a very special Christmas scheme.
Over the past few years the traditional festive lights in Friary Gardens have been subject to mindless vandalism.
So for 2015 ‘Friary Fairy Light Watch’ has been set up, urging everyone to be the eyes and ears of the display - which is switched on this Friday (November 27 at 7pm).
Richmond Safer Neighbourhood Police team, Safer Richmondshire Community Safety team and the Richmond Duck Club hope it will see an end to the damage caused to the display over the last few years.
Local groups are being encouraged by the police to take part in the scheme which is based on the principles of a Neighbourhood Watch - but for a short term and a specific issue. Anyone passing the gardens is simply asked to keep an eye on the lights and report anything concerning or any damage they see - as soon as they see it – by calling the police on 101.
Work has been undertaken in and around Friary Gardens this year to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour - and it is hoped that this additional scheme will help keep the lights safe and make sure that everyone coming to Richmond will be able to enjoy them.
“The Police are committed to regularly patrolling the Gardens and surrounding area while the lights are in place but we cannot be there 24 hours a day,” said Acting Sergeant Gary Treweek of the Richmond Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team.
“Through the hard work of the Richmond Duck Club the lights are a great attraction for residents and visitors -but for some they could be a focus to cause damage. After the problems of 2014 many people in Richmond were angered by the damage caused - we want to put that passion for the lights into this proactive scheme.
“The Christmas spirit is about bringing people together and we want residents and visitors to come together to report what they see to keep this great tradition safe. This is not about locals getting involved to stop anything happening, it is about reporting what they see - when they see it - to give us the best chance of being able to catch whoever may be responsible for any damage."