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Officer suspended as police apologise

PUBLISHED: 08:25 01 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:50 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK police officials have formally apologised to local communities over an incident in which a policeman falsely claimed a shotgun had been fired in his direction.

SUFFOLK police officials have formally apologised to local communities over an incident in which a policeman falsely claimed a shotgun had been fired in his direction.

The constable, who is now suspended from duty pending the outcome of an internal disciplinary investigation, claimed that a masked gunman had fired the shot after emerging from a car on a narrow country lane near Stradbroke.

The incident – reported when the officer was on duty at Eye Police Station - led to a full-scale police hunt, door-to-door enquiries and the setting up of checkpoints.

However, the inquiry was called off just over a week later when the constable, aged 29 and from the Bury St Edmunds area, admitted he had made up the story.

Now Suffolk Constabulary has written to parish and town councils, district councillors and Neighbourhood Watch groups in the area formally apologising "for any distress and inconvenience that has been caused to your local community".

The letter, signed by the sector commander, Inspector Jon Brighton, expresses the hope that local people will now feel reassured knowing that the incident "did not actually take place".

"I know my officers receive a great deal of support from your residents and therefore I would be grateful if you could bring this letter to the attention of your councillors at your next meeting," he says in the version of the letter sent to local councils on March 22.

Stuart Gemmill, Stradbroke Parish Council chairman, said he did not believe the incident had damaged relations between the police and the local community.

"There seems to be a lot of sympathy towards the constable involved who may, for some reason which we do not know, have felt under a great deal of stress in order to do such a thing," Mr Gemmill said.

Inspector Brighton had offered to attend a meeting in the community but parish councillors did not feel that this was necessary.

"As far as we're concerned the incident is best forgotten," Mr Gemmill added.

Charles Michell, mayor of Eye, said as far as he knew no distress or inconvenience had been caused by the Stradbroke incident. "These things do happen although the circumstances behind this particular incident must remain a matter of speculation," he said.

Mr Michell said despite the suspension of the officer involved he had been informed than eleven officers were still based at Eye which also had the services of six special constables.

"Crime here has decreased by 85% over the past year and everything seems to be under control," he added.


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