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THE level of police support available to Melksham in an emergency has come under fire after police took days to follow up on a report of a father being physically assaulted and his young daughter verbally threatened after a road rage incident.
The victim of the incident says that local police resources are focussed on the nerve agent investigation in Amesbury and Salisbury, and that emergency response times for Melksham could take up to 30 minutes as a result.
The local man, who did not want to be named, told Melksham News that following a near-miss in his car with a van on Blackmore Road, he was punched in the face by the other driver. The van driver went on to threaten the victim’s four-year-old daughter, who was also in the car, saying he would harm her with a knife if he went to the police.
The victim says he then drove to Melksham Police Station at Hampton Park, with the other driver in pursuit, who tried to force him off the road.
Upon arriving at the station, the father and his daughter had to wait hours before making a statement as there were no officers available. He was then told that because of limited resources due to the nerve agent incident in Amesbury and Salisbury, it could take up to three or four days for the incident to be investigated.
“This man was still out there and he threatened to harm my four-year-old daughter,” said the man, “I couldn’t believe it when they told me. Staff said to me that it could take between 20 to 30 minutes for a response to emergency 999 calls because of Amesbury – as that’s the priority.
“People don’t realise that there are no police stationed in Melksham – the station is mostly for processing people in custody. The nearest police to Melksham is in Trowbridge.”
It wasn’t until six days after the incident, the van driver was questioned by police. “He handed himself in to the police when he heard that they were looking for him,”said the victim.
Melksham News approached Wiltshire Police to comment on the incident, asking them to explain why no action was taken immediately after the incident and to clarify what police support is available to Melksham.
In response, Sgt James Williams, from Wiltshire West community policing team said, “We are very sorry that the victim in this case feels let down by our response. Unfortunately, last Friday (6th July) we had a very busy afternoon in this part of the county, as well as providing support for the ongoing incident down in Amesbury and Salisbury.
“However, I want to reassure the public that we have a community policing team which works remotely in Melksham, providing a local policing presence in the town.
“Obviously we have to prioritise emergency calls, which means some victims of crime may have to wait if their query is not urgent, but we always aim to respond to people at the next available opportunity.
“One of our sergeants has now spoken to the victim to apologise for the delay and to give him an update on our ongoing investigation.
“We have been carrying out CCTV and ANPR enquiries, but what we really need are independent witnesses who can help us piece together exactly what happened.
“We would like to appeal for anyone who was in Blackmore Road, Melksham, at around 2pm on Friday 6th July and who saw an altercation involving the driver of a white Transit van, to contact us.
“They should either phone 101, quoting Log 160 of 6th July 2018, or they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”