This week as is clear from the online video available both in the local and national press that an incident took place in Bridgwater where a male was attacked. The Police following the video coming to light were able to make early arrests of those who were identified and there was a period of time after those arrests where we were unable to locate the victim. With such a distressing incident in our town being the subject of news stories across social media and in the National press, the Town Council immediately contacted the Police for a statement and offered support for the victim and his family. Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Tony Heywood has called on people to “Let the Police carry out their investigations”.
The Police response
“I am happy to report that the victim is now in contact with the Police and we are ensuring all safeguarding measures are put in place. Due to the severity of the incident and the community interest the Investigations department are taking the lead on the investigation. My Neighbourhood Policing team have been assisting with securing the scene, collating evidence and completing reassurance patrols in the local area. As you can imagine people have come forward with information and we are in the process of collecting all the evidence required.
As things stand with the investigation I can tell you that multiple witnesses have been spoken to and multiple suspects have been interviewed. The plan now and I am unable to give a timeline because it depends on any number of elements which could delay the next process but the Police will provide all the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service who will make a charging decision based on the evidence and for which offences whether that be one or multiple offences.
I have seen social media with comments from people saying which offence fits and I think this sometimes is what causes the confusion. Initial arrests will be for suspicion of an offence i.e. what is quickly seen on the video in question. The necessity of an arrest is all about securing an individual to protect the victim, securing evidence and to begin prompt and effective investigation. The Police will then collate all evidence in order for a charge to be brought and taken to court. I want to reassure you all that we are completing a thorough investigation and every single avenue is being explored to be ensure we get the most suitable outcome for this.
In regards to the hate element, at this stage I am unable to confirm that this indeed is a hate crime. Clearly the victim is Polish so the element of a hate link will be investigated and we will work with our partners S.A.R.I (Stand Against Racism and Inequality) in order to support the victim as we do with any case that could be linked to hate.
I cannot stress enough for the community to please leave the Police to complete the investigation, I completely understand that the distressing images from the video and created anger within some parts of the community but creating of groups or backlash online only brings more demand to an already busy Police team and we need to make sure our resources are focused on completing everything that is required.
As soon as we have a further update on the investigation the force will put a statement out and I am available locally to our councillors to give any updates next week.”