Ex-cop had to let yob go after slow 999 response

Mr Rowe caught the vandal in Newhaven but had to let him go because police were too busy. Picture: comp

Mr Rowe caught the vandal in Newhaven but had to let him go because police were too busy. Picture: comp

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A FORMER policeman was forced to wait an hour for ­officers to arrive when he tried to catch a gang who had vandalised his car.

Disabled pensioner Frank Rowe was at home in Newhaven Road with his wife, Trisha, 54, when he heard a loud crash outside his window.

He rushed outside to find a gang of eight young men wrenching the mirrors off parked cars.

The group split into two, with five of the youths heading towards the Asda in ­Lindsay Road, while three others headed towards Newhaven Harbour.

The 65-year-old grandfather – who served with the Met between 1968 and 1979 – called police to say he was going after the youths and kept the operator on the line as he gave chase.

He had to hang up the call as he grappled with one of the perpetrators before pinning him in a bus shelter for six minutes while he called police again to say he had the culprit.

Mr Rowe, who has no feeling in his left hand after a lorry crash last year, said: “I just had to intervene. I’m a former police officer – it’s in my blood.

“I pinned the one who did my car in the bus stop and rang 999 again saying I needed back-up urgently. He was struggling pretty hard, and I am 65, so I couldn’t hold him for as long as I used to.”

But the operator said police were too busy to send reinforcements, and the have-a-go hero was forced to let the teen go as the group surrounded him.

He said: “I thought three wasn’t too bad, and I managed to stop one, but then his pals came back. His friends were shouting ‘Let him go’, but they didn’t do anything to me thankfully. If the boys in blue had turned up then it would have been fine but they didn’t.”

Police phoned him back at 11.29pm, almost an hour after his initial call on December 13, saying they were on scene – by which time he was back home.

Mr Rowe, who retired three weeks ago from truck driving, said: “The people of Edinburgh deserve better than this from a 999 call. What are we supposed to do to protect ourselves and our property if we have to wait so long for help?”

The group caused around £250 damage to Mr Rowe’s silver Honda, which he had only bought two days beforehand as a retirement present.

He said: “It is really frustrating. When I was in the force you could do three or four arrests a day. Now they are too tied up with paperwork.”

Out of the 2506 incidents of vandalism in the Capital in 2014, only 14.2 per cent were cleared up by police, according to recent crime statistics.

An official complaint made by Mr Rowe to the Chief Constable is now being investigated, a ­police spokesman confirmed.

The spokesman said: “On this occasion local officers were involved in a number of ongoing serious incidents that required an urgent police response and they attended at the complainer’s home address within one hour of the report being made to the control room.

“Inquiries are ongoing to identify those responsible and anyone with information is asked to come forward.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com