Vandal victim left hanging on the line

A FRUSTRATED trader today labelled Suffolk police's phone system as disgraceful after he was left hanging on the line when he tried to report an attack on his shop.

A FRUSTRATED trader today labelled Suffolk police's phone system as disgraceful after he was left hanging on the line when he tried to report an attack on his shop.

Nick Murrell got so angry at not being able to speak to a police officer after vandals smashed his premises for the fifth time in ten years, he rang 999 – even though it was not an emergency.

But his call was downgraded because control room officers knew the incident did not require immediate attention and it was 90 minutes before an officer was sent to deal with it.

"It left me very, very angry – when you ring the police about a crime you expect to speak to a police officer pretty quickly. It is a disgrace," said Mr Murrell, owner of Finicky's hair design in Faulkeners Way, Trimley St Mary.


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"I rang the main number at Martlesham and was then diverted to Felixstowe police station. The phone rang there for seven minutes and no-one answered it.

"I then rang 999 because it seemed the only way to get a police officer to attend and deal with the incident, and then it was still 90 minutes before one arrived."

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He was at home when he was told by a customer about the attack on his shop and had not visited the premises until he had made the phone calls to the police.

"I didn't know if someone had got into the shop and might have still been on the premises," he said.

Vandals used a metal tool such as a crowbar or scaffolding pole to smash two holes in the laminated window of the hairdresser's.

The window did not break, but Mr Murrell was left with a £1,500 bill because the number of attacks has made it impossible to get insurance cover.

His complaint is the latest in a series of protests about the police's central call system with many people saying they have been left hanging on the phone for long periods or waiting some time to be rung back.

Felixstowe police sector commander Insp Andy Bushell said he was satisfied that Mr Murrell's 999 call had been given "the appropriate grading" at a time when officers were busy on emergencies as it was a case of vandalism.

Trimley beat officer Pc Dave Gledhill had attended the incident, believed to have happened between 11.30pm November 8 and 8am November 9, as soon as he came on duty.

"Mr Murrell rang 999 out of frustration and I can sympathise with him because it is not nice when you discover someone has attacked your premises and cracked your window," said Insp Bushell.

"The force has a problem with its central call service, partly due to the huge increase in the number of calls it now receives.

"It is a matter which is being taken very seriously and a solution to improve the service is being worked on at this moment."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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