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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 July 2006, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
'Eye in the sky' tracks vandals
Network Rail helicopter with police officers
It is hoped the helicopter will catch railway vandals
Police and rail bosses have joined forces to crack down on railway crime.

British Transport Police and Network Rail are using a helicopter for Sunday's Operation Clarinet.

Pc Nicky Ritchie, the first Scottish area air observer, will be in communication with colleagues on the ground.

This will enable him to direct them to areas where vandalism, stone-throwing or trespassing is taking place on railway lines.

In the first of what could become regular operations, the helicopter is being deployed to areas in the west and central belt of Scotland where route crime offences are common - including "hot spots'" in Glasgow and Lanarkshire.

Misusing the railway can be extremely dangerous
Supt Ronnie Mellis
British Transport Police

Supt Ronnie Mellis, Scottish area commander of British Transport Police, said: "Intelligence shows that the lighter nights tend to lead to an increase in route crime offences such as vandalism, trespassing and stone-throwing.

"Misusing the railway can be extremely dangerous and British Transport Police will work closely with Network Rail and use innovative resources such as the helicopter to detect those who put themselves and rail passengers in danger."

David Simpson, Network Rail's route director in Scotland added: "Network Rail's helicopter has been successfully used in other parts of the UK to catch people who commit railway crime, and we are hopeful that this British Transport Police operation will have a real impact in Scotland.

"Now that the BTP has a dedicated air observer, we will be delighted to offer the services of our helicopter to combat railway crime, which is a particular problem at this time of year, when schools are on holiday and the weather is warm."

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