Dalkeith teacher’s terror during wait after 999 call over prowler

ennifer Phibbs lives NEXT DOOR to a Police Scotland HQ, but had to wait 15 minutes for cops to arrest an intruder at her home. Picture John Jeffay.
ennifer Phibbs lives NEXT DOOR to a Police Scotland HQ, but had to wait 15 minutes for cops to arrest an intruder at her home. Picture John Jeffay.

A TEACHER who came face-to-face with a midnight prowler faced an anxious wait for police – even though she lives right next to a station.

Jennifer Phibbs shares a garden wall with Dalkeith Police Office, in Newbattle Road, but the officers who arrived were sent from a station three miles away in Loanhead.

“I could have put my head out of the window and shouted for help from the police station,” said the 63-year-old teacher.

“You used to be able to rely on local policing, but not any more.

“I kept seeing officers leaving Dalkeith in their cars and prayed the next one would be for me, but it never appeared.”

Police Scotland said “the nearest available resources were dispatched to attend” after Ms Phibbs bravely 
tackled a “threatening” prowler when he burst into her home late at night.

He remained lurking outside and a petrified Jennifer, who was at home alone, called 999. She was put through to Police Scotland’s Bilston Glen call centre, and claims to have been told her call was classed as “high priority”.

But she was left waiting 13 minutes until officers eventually appeared.

Jennifer’s ordeal began late on a Wednesday night in August last year – but she has chosen to speak now in frustration at a lack of action being taken since then. Her partner, Ian, a retired college lecturer, had gone out for the evening with a friend and she had left her back door unlocked as he didn’t have a key.

At about 11.30pm, Jennifer heard the back door open and assumed Ian had returned – but instead there was a terrifying stranger looming in her home.

She said: “I entered the hallway to see a man I had never seen in my life before coming towards me. I was absolutely terrified and shouted at him to get out while pushing him towards the back door.

“I managed to push him out of the back door and lock it.”

Despite living next to the police station, officers eventually arrived after about quarter of an hour and arrested a 51-year-old man at the scene.

A report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal to consider prosecution. But a year later no action has been taken.

Jennifer said: “When he was arrested it was the last time I heard anything about the case.

“No follow-up calls from the police or the Crown Office to let me know what happened despite me trying.

“No-one seems to be interested in keeping victims of crime up-to-date.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “The call was given a high priority and the nearest available resources were dispatched to attend.

“A 51-year-old man was subsequently charged under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

“The caller reported that a man had entered and left their house, following which the property had been secured.”