Inspector Shaun Flavell abandons Werneth Area Committee to pursue shoplifter. Credit: Stockport council.
A police officer was forced to abandon a council meeting when a suspected shoplifter was spotted making off with goods from a nearby store.
Insp Shaun Flavell had been fielding questions from councillors at Woodley Civic Hall, in Stockport, when a figure was seen running past with a worker from the local Iceland supermarket in pursuit.
The suspected thief is first spotted by councillors who ask Insp Flavell if he ‘needs to go’, to which he first replies ‘I’ve not got a radio or anything, to be honest’.
However, as councillors point out ‘that looks like a crime is being committed’, he breaks off to go after the offender. As he leaves the building he asks members to ‘look after my stuff’ – much to the amusement from those in attendance.
The incident took place at around 6.15pm on 20 June.
Coun Lisa Smart, who was chairing the Werneth area committee meeting, said it was not a situation she had previously encountered in local politics.
“I do not recall anything like that happening during a council meeting before,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“We’re very happy to have police come and certainly we were not expecting a crime to take place, visibly from the meeting room.”
However she said it was ‘genuinely good’ to have a police inspector come to a public meeting to talk to the community about crime prevention.
“I think it goes to show the value of having meetings in the community that we were elected to represent and that the neighbourhood policing team serve. It goes to show the value of having these local meetings and getting the community involved in local decisions.”
Before being called into action, Insp Flavell had been answering questions about the potential for a ‘Community Speedwatch’ scheme to tackle road safety.
While High Lane had been earmarked for the project, he said there was a ‘slight problem’ in that the force was not currently recruiting PCSOs due to a ‘review’ of neighbourhood policing.
This was not welcome news for councillors, who had been unaware this was the case.
“It was disappointing and we hope the local neighbourhood policing will be fully staffed as quickly as possible,” said Coun Smart.
Her comments were echoed by Coun Mark Roberts, who also represents Bredbury Green and Romiley.
“It was good that the police came to our meeting to take our questions and the incident outside the meeting shows the importance and need for neighbourhood policing in our community.
“We were surprised though given this to hear there is a recruiting freeze on new officers/staff at the moment which we would hope will be lifted soon. Our obvious thanks goes to those officers who work to keep our area safe.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said the offender dropped the stolen goods and no arrest was made. Enquiries are ongoing.
Anyone with information can contact GMP via gmp.police.uk or 101. Information can also be shared anonymously via the independent charity – Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Iceland was contacted for comment.