Mum-of-three 'attacked' trying to stop shoplifters blasts PCSO who refused to intervene 'as then I have to deal with it'

4 July 2023, 05:55 | Updated: 4 July 2023, 08:25

The footage of the PCSO has appalled viewers
PCSO Metcalfe (left, with police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne outside the Co-op earlier, and right, in footage) has been criticised. Picture: Social media

By Will Taylor

A mother-of-three who was attacked trying to stop shoplifters has blasted police after a PCSO was filmed refusing to drive 200 yards down the road to intervene.

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PCSO Stewart Metcalfe was recorded sitting in his police car in Lancing, West Sussex last week when he refused to go to a Co-op as a member of the public told him a member of the public was being attacked.

Metcalfe was just down the road when he told Michael, who was passing in his car, that he was not a "response" unit.

When he was asked to drive by in the hope that the disorderly people - which apparently included a teenage girl - would "scatter", he replied: "But then I have to deal with it."

Read more: 'But then I have to deal with it': PCSO slammed for 'cowardice' after refusing to intervene in 'shop brawl'

Speaking at his home in Worthing on Monday, as the footage emerged, he told Mail Online: "I haven't seen the video yet. I'm on a rest day from work.

"I won't say anything, it's probably best not to right now."

PCSO 'refuses to help' deal with ongoing incident in West Sussex

It has emerged that the PCSO was previously given an award for joining two colleagues as they saved a man's life at Lancing Beach in 2015.

He and two other PCSOs were injured in the incident, with the man trying to take his own life, but managed to restrain him to stop him harming himself and they were praised for "great professionalism and compassion".

Read more: Five charged by Met during Just Stop Oil protest at London Pride as new police powers come into force

He was also pictured outside the Co-op where the disorder is said to have broken out on June 29, during a previous walkabout with MP Tim Loughton and the Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne.

Michael, who filmed the footage, told Metcalfe that a mother had been hurt by a teenager he accused of shoplifting.

Police Commissioner for Sussex 'frustrated' by the PCSO who refused to attend a shoplifting incident

Rohany, 41, said she saw teenagers stealing products and felt sorry for the security guard who was being physically and verbally abused.

She called the police and tried to film a girl she believed was involved, but Rohany said the girl through a can of Malibu she was drinking and punched her on the head.

Others intervened after Rohany pushed her away, then the teenager walked off.

The mother-of-three said: "I've seen the clip of that PCSO refusing to help and he should've done more. If he couldn't have gone there himself, would it not have been useful to radio his colleagues and make sure they were aware of what had happened?

"I think it's this attitude which is enabling criminals to operate with impunity in this area."

Michael, the 43-year-old transport manager who recorded his argument with Metcalfe, said: "What kind of message does this send out? The police refusing to police?

"The PCSO couldn't have seemed less interested. He was very dismissive, all I got from him was a 'this isn't my job' vibe."

Sussex Police said it was aware of the footage on Monday.

"The matter was reported to us and a police officer attended the incident as an emergency. The PCSO also then attended the scene," a spokesperson said.

"The investigation into a report of assault and shoplifting is subject of a live investigation, and the victim has been contacted by officers."

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."