Police criticised over raid response

A BUSINESSMAN has criticised police for their response to an armed robbery on a building society in Southwold.John Purdy, who runs a newsagent on the town's High Street, said he thought it was only a matter of time before such an incident happened because of the force's coverage of the upmarket coastal town.

A BUSINESSMAN has criticised police for their response to an armed robbery on a building society in Southwold.

John Purdy, who runs a newsagent on the town's High Street, said he thought it was only a matter of time before such an incident happened because of the force's coverage of the upmarket coastal town.

A man wearing a brimmed hat pulled down over his eyes walked into the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society in the Market Place at 4pm on Friday afternoon and demanded cash.

He told staff he had a gun and they handed over cash. The raider then walked out and it is believed he escaped in a car.


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Mr Purdy, whose premises is at the other end of the street to the building society said police had visited him in his newsagents to see if he had seen or heard anything.

He said: “I didn't know anything. The first I heard about it was on the radio a couple of hours later.

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“I think people have reacted in a way of not being surprised because of the very lack of police presence in this town.

“It is a well-known fact there's no police around and it was a matter of time before it would happen. I don't think people are surprised at all.”

Mr Purdy believed the robber would not have gone far. “There is only one road in and one road out. I would not have thought he left the town. I would think he is still here,” he said.

“I heard the police took an hour to respond, but if you have no police cover what can you expect?

“We never saw a police car. We never do see a police car. You would have thought you'd have seen screaming police cars around here (when it happened). It's all been a bit low-key really.”

Local businessman Dudley Clarke agreed that the incident was being greeted with calmness and very little fuss by the local community.

He said: “There was no real drama. It was rather like you or I going into a shop and asking for a pound of potatoes, getting what we wanted and walking out again.

“I had a drink with three landlords and it was not really the subject of conversation. It was not aggressive, not violent and we in Southwold are taking it in a stoical, laidback kind of way.”

Alison Rolls, head of communications for the Norwich and Peterborough, said: “It was a horrible incident. There was a weapon involved and therefore very traumatic for the staff and customers who were witness to it.

“We are very pleased no staff or customers were injured in any way but that doesn't make it any less terrifying. Our staff have our full support and there will be counselling for anyone who would like to take advantage of it.

“We would ask members of the public to help as much as they can. It is a very busy branch in a very busy spot and our staff are very popular with the local people and we would ask anyone who thinks they might be able to help to come forward and help the police in their inquiries.”

The man is described as white, wearing a beige jacket and black scarf and police have asked anyone with information about the raid to call Lowestoft CID via the central switchboard on 01473 613500.

Last night, no-one at Suffolk police was prepared to comment on Mr Purdy's criticism of police presence in the town.

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