On Monday evening at around 9.45pm a man entered the Spice Merchant restaurant on Thameside and started threatening and abusing staff and customers.
Manager, Zakir (Hassan) Chowdhury said, “The man entered the restaurant shouting and swearing at staff and customers. I asked him to leave but he continued to be abusive and so I called the police at 9.52. I was really worried about the safety of my staff and customers. In the 12 years that the Spice Merchant have been in Henley I’ve never experienced behaviour like this (not even during Regatta). The man wasn’t just drunk, his behaviour was like he was on something else too.”
The man left the restaurant for a short while but returned shouting and fighting in the street. It was at this point that the man caused damage to the restaurant’s glass entry door, an A board and the gutter pipe and in trying to restrain the man, Zakir got hurt. He incurred a serious cut to his hand which later required hospital treatment.
A customer in the restaurant who doesn’t wish to be named said, “People were scared and worried and called the police. The man continued to cause havoc and make threats, including racial abuse and had to be restrained by customers and staff, putting themselves at risk. Customers and staff continued to call police, there must have been 3 or 4 calls at least between 9.45 and 10.10. The enraged man finally left the scene about 10.10 but customers were still concerned he may return I left at about 10.15 by which time there was still no sign of any police response. Some of the customers were very frightened. Whilst I was concerned about the aggressive young man I was more angry and felt very let down by the lack of any police response.“
Zakir told us that he was on the phone to the police for 20 minutes and the police finally turned up at 10.20 and confirmed that they had come from Didcot. Afterwards they confirmed that the man was caught and arrested. Zakir commented, “I don’t expect to need security on a Monday evening in Henley and I would have expected a quicker response to so this incident which escalated very quickly and could have been much more serious.”
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said, “A 29-year-old man from Abingdon was arrested last night on suspicion of assault. He was brought into police custody but has subsequently been released under investigation.”
In response to the time take for the police to arrive on the scene, TVP replied, “It took officers 26 minutes to arrive at the scene after the initial call to our control room. Resources are sent to incidents after the threat, harm and risk has been assessed this is because the force receives more than one million calls from the public every year.”
This is the second serious incident in Henley where police have taken over 20 minutes to arrive on the scene. Last month a driver, drove down the wrong side of Reading Road and caused an accident. Read the story here.