East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and Sussex Police initially refused to provide The Argus with any details of the major ongoing incident.
Spokespeople at the fire control and force control rooms withheld basic details such as the location, saying they had been told not to give away any information by their superiors.
Despite an inspector being at the scene, a Sussex Police spokesman blamed their attendance on staff shortages, telling a reporter the incident was minor and “nothing for the press to worry about.”Really? Sounds like a strange way to describe any incident requiring:
”…two riot vans, three police cars and about 20 officers…”Doesn’t it?
After the event, of course, the police were very forthcoming about the disruption and resource-intensive effort required by this ‘minor incident’:
Later that afternoon – after the arrest was made - the police released a statement in which inspector Rachel Glenton said: “This was a potentially serious incident which was safely and professionally resolved by our officers, working with the other emergency services. We were also grateful for the co-operation of the nearby residents whose lives were temporarily disrupted.”Hmmm, did they really have a choice?
A 20-year-old neighbour, and Brighton University student, was evacuated from her house with the rest of her flat mates. She said: “I’m shocked the police initially were saying this wasn’t a major incident. It was a big deal. We were scared that our lives were in danger and the house could get blown up. We were evacuated from the house but the police wouldn’t tell us anything. We all had deadlines to meet and work to do but we had to go to a friend’s house for a while to be in safety.”Better to get people out of the way in case he made good his threat to blow up the gas in the house (that they’d cut off)? Or better to get people out of the way so the police don’t have to deal with awkward questions?
Either way, it’s pretty worrying when the police tell one story to the press, and another to concerned residents.
Who might, next time their taxes are due, start to ask why the police need to employ a whole division of PR-trained staff to not communicate anything…