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04th Jul 2023

PCSO filmed ‘refusing to attend assault 26 seconds away’

Steve Hopkins

‘Yeah, but then I’ll have to deal with it’

Sussex Police has launched an investigation as outrage continues to mount after footage emerged showing a PCSO refusing to attend an assault just a few hundred meters away.

Footage of the incident in Lancing, West Sussex, shows a witness pull up next to a marked police car to report an incident at a nearby Co-op where a fight had broken out when people reportedly tried to stop shoplifters.

The witness urged the community support officers to attend, saying: “There’s a member of the public who’s just been assaulted.”

The PCSO said they were “not a response unit”.

When the person behind the camera suggested the sight of a police car would help control the situation, the officer replied: “Yeah, but then I’ll have to deal with it.”

The incident, recorded on dashcam footage, has been circulating on social media and has prompted several former officers to speak out.

Former Scotland Yard detective, Mike Neville, told MailOnline he was “appalled” when he saw the video, saying every day the public’s trust in the police “ebbs away” and that the footage shows “police are not on your side”.

Another ex-Scotland Yard detective, Peter Bleksley, told Good Morning Britain the incident was a “dreadful look” for the force and that an officer wearing a uniform and in a marked car should have dealt with the disturbance “and actually done what they are paid to do.”

Sussex Police has apologised for the “clumsy language used by the PCSO” and is investigating.

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner told Good Morning Britain on Tuesday: “My initial response was really disappointed and I felt quite frustrated as the member of the public did as well. the irony is that PCSOs are employed for their engagement skills and I think the response there was lacking, quite frankly, and could have been a lot better.”

Good Morning Britain later reported that it took them 26 seconds to travel from the officer’s location in the video to the Co-op.

After Sussex Police Department was made aware of the video, it said a police officer did respond to the scene at the supermarket, after which the PCSO also attended.

The force has apologised for the “clumsy language” used by the PCSO, and said it was reviewing its response to the incident.

Police community support officers are intended to support neighbourhood police teams, and though they can’t arrest people they may use reasonable force against a person while waiting for a constable or transporting them to a police station.

In a statement to The Independent, West Sussex local policing Superintendent Nick Dias said: “Keeping the public safe and feeling safe is paramount and our officers and PCSOs work hard to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, often in challenging circumstances. We work closely with local retailers and partners to help prevent and respond to anti-social behaviour and assaults on shop workers.

“We are sorry for the clumsy language used by the PCSO in this exchange and acknowledge the public’s concern. A police unit was dispatched to the scene as a matter of priority. Our response to this incident is being reviewed.” Sussex Police is also investigating the report of assault and shoplifting. The victim in the case has been contacted by officers.

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