Measures taken to make dog walkers feel safer in Norwich park

There have been some reports of suspicious looking people watching dog walkers in Waterloo Park recently 

There have been some reports of suspicious looking people watching dog walkers in Waterloo Park recently - Credit: Victoria Pertusa/Archant

Reassurances have been given to dog owners after fears of potential thefts in a city park.

Friends of Waterloo Park [FOWP] said all the hedges at Waterloo Park have been lowered to create clear sight lines which should help to increase people's feeling of safety.

This work, which was not carried out by the city council as a result of dog thefts specifically, has been paused while birds are nesting. 

It comes as dog walkers reported seeing two "shady looking" men watching people at the park recently as the prices of dogs have rocketed during the pandemic while more people stay at home. 

Norfolk Police have not taken any action as these people have not done anything specific to merit a complaint, but FOWP are encouraging people to contact the constabulary if they do feel threatened.

People enjoying Waterloo Park in Nowich on Saturday, May 16, 2020, a week after coronavirus lockdown

There have been recent reports of suspicious looking men watching dog walkers in Waterloo Park - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

A spokesperson for FOWP said: "Sadly, it’s always sensible to be cautious and aware of your surroundings and who is around you these days, particularly if you are walking alone.

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"All dogs should be under control in the park, so owners should always be able to see their pets and anyone acting suspiciously near them."

They added: "We are hopeful that the café will soon be back in action and from past experience we feel that the park is safer if there are people coming and going to the café."

Glenn Lumb, who was walking his French Bulldog Cassie at Waterloo Park on Sunday afternoon, said he was aware of the suspicious looking men in the park. 

Glenn Lumb is pictured with his dog Cassie at Waterloo Park in Norwich 

Glenn Lumb is pictured with his dog Cassie at Waterloo Park in Norwich - Credit: Victoria Pertusa/Archant

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He said: "I am very protective after hearing the stories. A prison officer comes to detect anything suspicious and there were reports of a couple of fellas with hoodies who were up to no good and kept looking over when there were three people.

"There was the feeling they were waiting for the other two to disappear so they could approach the one person." 

Mr Lumb added: "It is sad that you can't take your dog for a nice, enjoyable walk without looking over your shoulder."

Another dog owner in the park, who did not wish to be identified, said she was made to feel uncomfortable due to two men watching her from near the bushes.

She said: "Someone came up to me and said 'hi I work at the prison', these guys are following us. There were two guys sat in the corner watching which made me feel tense and not enjoy the park at all."

Waterloo Park dog walker Azhar Altimimi said: "I keep my dog on the lead at all times. I think I feel safe in this park as it is smaller than other ones. I see all dogs on leads now."

Azhar Altimimi was out walking her dog at Waterloo Park on Sunday afternoon 

Azhar Altimimi was out walking her dog at Waterloo Park on Sunday afternoon - Credit: Victoria Pertusa/Archant

Both Norfolk Police and the city council said they are not aware of any specific issues. 

An RSPCA spokesperson said: "As an animal welfare charity the RSPCA doesn’t deal directly with pet theft - leaving criminal matters such as this to the expertise of police - but we believe the rise in dognapping could be as a result of the surging popularity, and value, of fashionable and  designer breeds. 

“We’d urge all dog owners to take extra precautions to protect their pooches from thieves by neutering their pets, ensuring they are microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered, ensuring they wear a collar with contact details embroidered or an engraved ID tag.

"We’d also advise that owners never leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, ensure their gardens are secure with gates locked, and ensure their pet has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when off-lead on walks."

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