Police apologise for village mix-up

POLICE last night issued an apology after a firefighter was arrested outside his home by armed officers who were at the wrong house and in the wrong village.

POLICE last night issued an apology after a firefighter was arrested outside his home by armed officers who were at the wrong house and in the wrong village.

Paul Brown, who was arrested as his terrified four-year-old son watched in horror, is demanding answers following the blunder, in which two officers confronted him outside his home in Clare, near Sudbury, as a police helicopter circled above.

Suffolk police apologised to Mr Brown and explained officers were a responding to a call from a workman who said he had heard a gun being fired at an address in Stour Vale, Clare. A subsequent call to the informant revealed the address to be in nearby Wixoe.

When officers went to the right address - just a few miles from Mr Brown's home - they found a firework had been let off.

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Mr Brown, who works as a retained firefighter in the village, told the EADT: “The whole thing was quite scary for me - it is not every day you have something like that happen.”

He said his four-year-old son, who watched the incident unfold from the living room window, was left distraught by what happened. “What made it worse was that my son was watching. He was terrified by it all and still is. I am very angry - I still can't believe it happened, but to have my little boy watching was the most upsetting thing of all,” he said.

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Police said they had initially confirmed the address in Clare with a number of nearby homeowners but found out they had the wrong address after checking with the workman who made the original call.

Recalling the incident, Mr Brown said: “I heard a helicopter and went outside to see it get nearer and nearer. I expected something but I didn't know what was going on.

“Then I heard a car pull up on my driveway and two armed police officers got out and told me to put my hands above my head.

“They obviously heard that they had the wrong address because they then just left. There was no apology or anything by them. It is not that the police just got the wrong house - one or two doors away - the fact it was the wrong village makes it even more shocking.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “A call came in from a workman who stated he had heard shots being fired from a neighbouring garden. He gave the address as Stour Vale, Clare.

“Police went to the area accompanied by armed officers, which is standard procedure in circumstances such as this for the safety of the officers and the general public. A number of homeowners at the given location were spoken to so that more information could be gained. At this point it became clear that residents were not aware of any incident.

“The original informant was contacted again to confirm details, at which point he corrected the location to that of Stour Vale, Wixoe. We apologise to anyone who may have felt alarmed or distressed as a result of this incident.”

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