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Knaresborough determined to catch drama hoaxer
THE hoaxer who sparked the lockdown of a quiet North Yorkshire market town and wasted hours of police time must be brought to justice, a local MP has said.
Armed police cordoned off a large area of Knaresborough for more than three hours, while officers forced the owner and staff of Paragon Pizza from their cars at gunpoint, before searching the shop.
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy said the whole incident had been caused by a number of hoax calls to North Yorkshire Police and a neighbouring force at about 3pm on Wednesday. An investigation was already under way by the newly-launched Major Crimes Unit to find those responsible.
Andrew Willoughby, a Knaresborough town councillor, had watched events unfold through social media. He said police “did what they had to do”.
He said: “It was very concerning and disturbing. We can only speculate on most of it but I can’t imagine that the hoaxer intended to create quite such mayhem. We can only guess it’s someone against Paragon, its staff or owner, who wanted them to be stopped and questioned and didn’t think all that would go off.
“The really nasty side of it is the bit we have all seen on the phone video online – the poor blokes being pulled out of the car at gunpoint. I’m thinking ‘wonderful, no-one was hurt’. But although there was no physical hurt, it must have been dreadful for them.”
Andrew Jones, the MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said the “worry, distress and huge inconvenience suffered by local people is a disgrace”, but police were right to take every precaution for public safety.
He said: “The hoax caller made very serious allegations. Not only did this unnecessarily spark a major armed police operation, it disrupted the lives of many Knaresborians, including schoolchildren, businesses and commuters. It worried relatives of Knaresborough residents who were following events as they unfolded online.
“The perpetrators of the hoax call will now be the focus of all our attention. They need to be caught and brought before the courts. It is important that the legal process is followed and that the law is used to demonstrate that this kind of behaviour has serious consequences not just to punish the offenders, but to demonstrate to others that such acts are unacceptable.”
Anyone with information should phone 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.