Police scurry after rat ‘infestation’

PUBLISHED: 13:36 27 November 2014

Saffron Walden police station was deserted last week after the reported sighting of a rat

Saffron Walden police station was deserted last week after the reported sighting of a rat

Archant

The sighting of a rat at Saffron Walden police station had officers scarpering last week – but why did it take so long for the public to be told the station had been abandoned?

The sighting of a rat at Saffron Walden police station had officers scarpering last week – but why did it take so long for the public to be told the station had been abandoned?

The Reporter was informed the station would close for up to six weeks, but today (Thursday) it reopened fully after the station was fumigated over the weekend.

Officers were nowhere to be seen after the station mysteriously closed its doors on Monday last week, with no information given to the public about the reason for the closure.

After a number of calls to Essex Police to establish the cause, the Reporter was finally told that what was initially dubbed a “health hazard” was in fact a “rat infestation”.

Officers attached to the station have been reporting to Dunmow police station while the Saffron Walden headquarters were closed, and Essex Police said the public experienced no change in how the area is usually policed.

Last Wednesday, a temporary mobile van opened outside the station to deal with enquiries, though it had no phone to receive calls from the public.

Speaking on the steps of the hazard tape-covered entrance, a Rentokil employee, who did not wish to be named, said there were reports of one rat being seen, but the pest control

company had found no evidence of any actual infestation.

An Essex Police employee, who also wished to remain anonymous, laughed at the idea of an infestation. In response to the lack of information given by the police, he said: “We don’t want to air our dirty laundry in public.”

The station’s front office has been open this week, but only today have officers transferred back from Dunmow.

During the closure, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) reported to the Saffron Walden police station front office, while other officers were attached to the station in Great Dunmow.

District Commander for Braintree and Uttlesford districts, Richard Melton told the Reporter: “We took the decision to shut the physical building, but the policing of the area hasn’t changed.

“I wouldn’t expect my officers to work where rats are. For me, police stations are just bricks and mortar – where my officers gather information and then get out into their cars. I want them out there, policing the streets.”

Town councillor Doug Perry, a former officer at Saffron Walden police station, said: “It’s supposed to be a place of safety and I feel it is needed as a last outpost in Essex. Where else can members of the public go?”

A statement issued by Essex Police read: “The rats have been removed and the station has been completely cleared. We will re-open for business tomorrow [Thursday].”

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