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'But then I have to deal with it': PCSO slammed for 'cowardice' after refusing to intervene in 'shop brawl'
3 July 2023, 12:29 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 17:21
PCSO 'refuses to help' deal with ongoing incident in West Sussex
Footage has captured the moment a driver berates a PCSO for failing to intervene during a shop brawl as he blasts the officer for "cowardice".
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The motorist pulls up to the Sussex Police PCSO and asks him to intervene, claiming members of the public are trying to stop shoplifting at a Co-op in Lancing but they are getting attacked.
But the officer, who is in a police car, refuses to get involved because "then I have to deal with it".
The perplexed driver, who records the encounter, criticises the "poor attitude" and says the response is the reason disorder happens.
"You need to get round to the Co-op. Honestly, there's just been a fight round there, because people are trying to stop the shoplifters that you're doing nothing about," he tells the officer.
Police Commissioner for Sussex 'frustrated' by the PCSO who refused to attend a shoplifting incident
"There's a member of the public just been assaulted by a 15-year-old girl who's drunk, had a drink thrown in her face, got punched, people have called the police, we've come round here and you're sitting here."
"I'm not a response unit, unfortunately," the PCSO replies.
"I know you're not, but the sight of the car will make them scatter," says the driver.
"Yeah, but then I have to deal with it," replies the officer.
"Are you afraid to deal with it then?" asks the motorist.
"That's not the point," says the PCSO.
"It kind of is the point, that's the perception," retorts the driver.
"That's why I'm here and not round there," says the officer.
The driver hits back: "That's just cowardice. I'm afraid it is. That's the whole reason these problems exist. That's a pretty poor attitude, I'm afraid."
The officer replies: "You have your opinion, I have mine."
"Wow. That's disappointing," the driver says.
The footage has caused shock and led to criticism of the officer for flatly refusing to even drive past the incident.
His force said the PCSO did attend the scene with a police officer.
Sussex Police said in a statement: "We are aware of video footage of a single-crewed Police Community Support Officer [PCSO] being approached by a member of the public to report an incident in Lancing.
"The matter was reported to us and a police officer attended the incident as an emergency. The PCSO also then attended the scene.
"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."