A police force was slammed today for responding to a 999 call about a double barrelled shotgun by sending a PCSO to the crime scene – on a BUS.
The weapon was discovered wrapped in a black bin bag by a horrified grandmother, who immediately called police to the scene in Chells Wood, Stevenage, Herts.
She claims the PCSO arrived an hour after her original call at 2pm on Sunday, explaining it had taken him so long because he had been waiting for a bus.
The grandmother from Stevenage, who wishes to remain anonymous, had been walking in the wood with her two children and two-year-old granddaughter when they spotted a parcel.
She said: ”We opened it up with a stick. It was a gun in a bin bag that was taped.
”I phoned 999 and an hour later a PCSO turned up and said ”I’m sorry I’m late, I had to wait for a bus because there weren’t enough cars”.
”I think a police officer should have been sent and they should have come out straightaway.
”The parcel was out in the open, and there were young boys aged about 10 or 11 on bikes in the area. It wasn’t safe for children.”
Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance slammed the police response as ”unbelievable”.
He said: ”This is a perfect example of when cost cutting can go too far.
”Clearly when people’s lives are at risk the police should use a car to ensure that the officer or the PCSO should get there in good time.”
A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said the PCSO had arrived at the scene 33 minutes after the original call, having caught a bus.
He had used public transport because police were responding to three other emergency calls at the time and the force needed confirmation the object was actually a gun, she added.
Firearms officers and a dog unit were then called in and the gun was taken to nearby Stevenage Police station for forensic analysis.
It is unclear at this stage whether the weapon has been used in a crime.
Stevenage Neighbourhood Team sergeant Jim Moat defended the move and said the weapon did not pose ”an immediate threat”.
He said: ”Call-takers have a number of options they can use in these infrequent situations, and acted within guidelines.
”The weapon posed no immediate threat, and a uniformed police officer wouldn’t necessarily be deployed until confirmation of what was found had been obtained.
”It was identified as a double-barrelled shotgun, and police are currently investigating its origin.
”No one was injured as a result of this incident, and we would encourage members of the public to always contact police if they discover any item of a suspicious nature, on the police non-emergency number 0845 33 00 222.”