A man who had to help detain a violent criminal in Melton town centre for over half-an-hour while waiting for police to arrive on the scene says he would think twice about doing it again.
Jim Russell chased and helped catch Neil Gordon after he stole tobacco from the Mercury New shop in Sherrard Street three days after he had robbed two convenience stores in the town armed with an axe.
Gordon, who was later jailed for eight years for the offences, headbutted Mr Russell as he tried to make a citizens’ arrest, causing injuries to his mouth which later needed stitches.
Mr Russell, a 58-year-old maintenance manager with the Samworth Brothers in Melton, said he was concerned when told during the incident, in March last year, that police officers were having to come from Leicester to deal with it because none were available in the town.
He contacted the Melton Times following recent reports about a shortage of police manpower for the Leicestershire force and the new crime fighting patrols being carried out by private security firms in rural areas officers can’t always get to.
Mr Russell said: “I had to hold him down with two others for at least half-an-hour, and probably longer, and he was thrashing around and becoming quite violent.
“When you chase after someone like that you would expect that after someone has called the police that officers would be on the scene in about five minutes.
“We were told that no police officers were available in Melton and that they had to come from Leicester, which took me back a bit.
“I would like to think I would do the right thing if it happened again, but I would now think twice about it if it meant having to wait half-an-hour or more for police assistance.”
Mr Russell had been off to meet a friend when a shop assistant shouted for someone to stop the fleeing Gordon.
He chased him down an alleyway and was assisted by a passing army captain, who rugby tackled him to the ground. Mr Russell was amazed to later find out that Gordon was Melton’s most wanted man at the time.
He added: “I don’t blame the police because they don’t have the funding they need, but it is worrying that Melton doesn’t seem to have enough officers to respond to incidents like this.”
Inspector Gavin Drummond, the Melton local neighbourhood policing area chief, said that at the time Gordon was detained by members of the public there were a number of priority incidents happening at the same time.
He said: “A call was made to the force just after 10am reporting four members of the public had apprehended a man in Oak Road who had been shoplifting in a shop.
“The man was reported as being agitated but was not carrying a weapon or threatening members of the public.
“Officers from the response team were deployed immediately, but due to the volume of incidents at the time there was a delay in them arriving at the scene.”
Insp Drummond advised the public to call the police rather than risk injury by confronting suspected criminals.
He added that changes had since been made to how officers were deployed so that more were now available to respond quickly in Melton.