The solution proved to be very successful and cameras have been guarding the statues efficiently since April 2007. “Throughout last December the police recorded almost double the increase in intrusion of the surrounding area compared to the previous month. Due to the patrol system, police can now react promptly to any violation caused by vandals or misbehaved tourists. All 158 monitored cases in December involved accidental intrusion of mostly tourists taking photographs of each other. Officers didn’t witness any damage regarding the statues or the bridge, or any behaviour leading to such act,” stated Rudolf Blazek, a first deputy to Chief Magistrate.

Seagulls sit on the heads

The police recorded on average 115 “intrusion” cases per month last year. The considerable increase occurred in April (192) and June (232). The biggest problem, however, occurs with seagulls who regularly sit on the heads of the preciously sculpted Saints. There have been thousands of such cases, statistically unrecorded. Seagulls unlike tourists, can sit on statue’s heads without the slightest threat of prosecution. Thanks to the cameras, the police officers, based in the nearby headquarters, are able to recognise the type of intrusion and give instructions to the police patrol accordingly. Altogether 16 cameras continually monitor Charles Bridge and its surroundings.

New Years Eve, the biggest risk

Surveillance systems assist significantly during New Year celebrations when, in the past, the sculptures sustained unnecessary damage. “The surveillance system records real time situations on Charles Bridge and assists in the deployment of police patrols in the area. This considerably added to the defence of our historical monuments on such a busy day,” said Vladimir Kotrous, of the chief executive of Prague City Police. The officers recorded altogether 1369 cases in 2008 regarding actual intrusion of the statues and their surroundings. Charles Bridge and its statues are monitored by 10 cameras which are very sensitive and record any movement made in the proximity of each statue. Another two cameras cover the bridge from a greater distance away, and the following four keep an eye on access roads toward the bridge.