viral video shows a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) refusing to attend an assault at a nearby shop after being urged to respond by a member of the public.
Sussex Police says it is investigating, after footage of the interaction emerged sparking widespread outrage.
It also apologised for the PCSO’s “clumsy language” in the clip, in which the officer says attending the crime scene would mean “then I have to deal with it”.
The now-viral dashcam clip shows a member of the public approaching a lone PCSO in a marked police car, parked in Lancing, West Sussex.
Addressing the PCSO, the man says: “You need to get around to the Co-op. There’s just been a fight there because people are trying to stop the shoplifters you’re doing nothing about.
“There’s a member of the public who’s just been assaulted by a 15-year-old girl who’s drunk – had a drink thrown in her face, got punched.
“People have called the police. We come round here, and you’re sitting here.”
The PCSO then responds: “I’m not a response unit unfortunately.”
“I know you’re not, but the sight of the car will make them scatter,” replies the man.
“Yeah but then I have to deal with it,” the PCSO says.
The man goes on to accuse the PCSO of “cowardice”, adding that their response was “disappointing”.
PCSOs do not have powers of arrest, or to attend incidents in a vehicle on a blue-light emergency.
But the officer’s response has been widely criticised by social media users. Among them is Derek Peck, who wrote on Twitter: “What a shocking attitude shown by the PCSO. No concern or empathy shown.”
Sussex Police says it is aware of the footage, and investigating the incident.
It added that a police officer attended the assault at the Co-op “as an emergency”, and the PCSO in the video – who had been alone in the police car – did also then attend the scene.
West Sussex local policing Superintendent Nick Dias said: “We are sorry for the clumsy language used by the PCSO in this exchange and acknowledge the public’s concern.
“A police unit was dispatched to the scene as a matter of priority. Our response to this incident is being reviewed.”
The force added that the Co-op assault and shoplifting incident is being investigated, and the victim has been contacted by police.
Supt Dias added: “Keeping the public safe and feeling safe is paramount and our officers and PCSOs work hard to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, often in challenging circumstances. We work closely with local retailers and partners to help prevent and respond to anti-social behaviour and assaults on shop workers.”