Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Thursday, 23 June 2005 09:13 UK

Flood victims get 24-hour patrols

North Yorkshire Police vehicle
North Yorkshire Police are stepping up patrols in rural districts

Police have set up round-the-clock patrols in the flood-hit villages of North Yorkshire in a bid to ward off opportunistic criminals.

They will operate for the next few days at least to reassure residents in the worst-hit Ryedale and Hambleton areas.

"Last weekend's flash floods caused devastation for many homeowners and businesses," said Supt Iain Spittall of North Yorkshire Police.

"The last thing they need is the added heartache of being burgled or conned."

The police are also supporting North Yorkshire County Council's trading standards officers who have urged people not to deal with potentially bogus doorstep traders for property repairs.

Supt Spittall said: "It is vital that the people who have been affected by the floods are given every chance to get back on their feet.

"This is why we are providing the round-the-clock patrols to discourage or catch criminals who are looking to gain from others' misfortune."

Anyone receiving a cold call from a doorstep trader offering to carry out repairs should notify the rapid response team on 01609 768636.

Flood damage to bridge leading in Hawnby
The government has been asked to help fund flood damage repairs

On Wednesday Tony Blair was asked in the House of Commons to help North Yorkshire in "its hour of need".

During Prime Minister's Questions, the Conservative MP for Vale of York, Ann McIntosh, urged the government to "dig deep" for repairwork. Mr Blair told the Commons that 500m a year is already spent on flood and coastal erosion management.

He said: "I would certainly join with her (Ms McIntosh) in sympathising with all those who have lost their possessions or livestock or had their homes damaged as a result of the floods on Sunday."

Meanwhile, the Army was drafted in to help restore access to remote villages that been cut off when floods destroyed roads and bridges.

Food and water supplies were also flown to the worst-affected areas.

Engineers have been assessing damage to bridges in Helmsley and North Yorkshire County Council has built a temporary structure across Chapel Bridge in Hawnby, which was swept away.



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