Arrest After Hoax Call Sparks Search

At 07.20pm on Friday 4th March 2011, Hampshire Police contacted Solent Coastguard and told them they had received a report of a man seen jumping from Northam Bridge at Bittern Manor on the Itchen River.

Coastguard rescue teams from Southampton and Hillhead were deployed to both sides of the Itchen River to start searching for a person in the water. 

The Coastguard helicopter was scrambled, Hamble Independent Lifeboat, a launch from Associated British Ports and local Police units, also undertook water and shore-side searches.

After an extensive search of the River Itchen, marinas and foreshore, police traced the caller's telephone and later arrested a man nearby on suspicion of making a malicious call to the emergency services, which resulted in many units being deployed.

The man is now under investigation by the Police.

Mike O'Sullivan, Watch Manager, Solent Coastguard said:

"During the course of the search a powerful laser beam light was fired into the cab of the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter. These hand-held lasers are highly dangerous and can cause a pilot to become distracted or even blinded putting all the crew at risk.

The crew of the Coastguard Helicopter, using their onboard video camera were able to obtain footage of the incident
which is to be passed to the Police for further investigation."