THE Environment Agency has had to divert staff away from vital work protecting lives and property to guard flood defence barriers at Bewdley.

Agency staff were shocked to hear people have tried to steal parts of the vital structures.

They are currently protecting two flood defence structures to stop possible thieves stealing the potentially life-saving barriers. Two defences currently have staff on guard - the demountable defences at Severnside South and Severnside North and temporary defences at Beales Corner. Fortunately, efforts to protect the defences have been successful.

Environment Agency staff erected the demountable and temporary defences that protected more than 200 properties during the worst flood event since at least 1947.

John Adams, area manager at the agency, said: "Our staff pulled out all the stops to get both barriers up at Bewdley. These are vital structures that have protected people's homes and lives.

"It is shocking that anyone would take advantage of other people's misfortune at this time and we are now having to move staff away from their vital work to act as security.

"I am amazed and absolutely disgusted that anyone would try to steal these barriers that have helped saved lives and property."