Hackney residents blow the whistle on crime

Regent's Canal Towpath

Regent's Canal Towpath - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s houseboat owners are blowing the whistle on canal crime with a community-led scheme to bring down burglaries on the waterway.

Boaters on Regent’s Canal are handing out whistles in an attempt to improve safety along their stretch of the towpath.

Barge owners are being urged to keep a whistle on their keys or around their neck and blow it if they see someone acting suspiciously, looking through windows or committing a crime.


Naseem Regragui, who is spearheading the initiative, said those he had spoken to on the towpath had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

He said: “Both the Canal and River Trust and the Metropolitan Police are on board and are ordering whistles. Some burglars have been caught recently.”

It is hoped Operation Whistleblower will reduce an increased number of thefts and vandalism of moored boats in recent months.

Most Read

“A donation of 50p or £1 means that we can keep distributing whistles as boats arrive and leave so that there are always whistleblowers near,” he said.

Keith Brown, community organiser for the Regent’s Canal and River Lea, said together with residents he was trying to create a “standardised plan of action for whistling and responding”.

The scheme appears to be gaining momentum with houseboat owners from as far as Tottenham and Kensal Rise voicing their support for the campaign.

It has also inspired Hackney Wick residents, who have been recently affected by a spate of muggings along the River Lee.

Founder of community group Urban Village Network, Vilmar Pellisson, 39, of Roach Road, Hackney Wick, said: “I have sent out leaflets so people are aware they should take some precautions.

“Canal-facing residents have a whistle. We raise an alarm by blowing the whistles. It creates a more secure neighbourhood.

“People carry a torch at night while walking along White Post Lane and the footpath which leads to Roach Road.”