By Ursula Duddy
A member of the public has spoken of the moment he was forced to intervene when a witnessed a female traffic attendant being attacked by a man.
Jeff Cornwall said he was walking along Queen Street at approximately 10.30am on Friday when he said he witnessed a man remonstrating with a female NSL Services Group (NSL) traffic warden before reaching for her and pinning her to a wall.
“I could see she was getting hassled by this bloke and then I saw him lunge for her and put his hands on her and I launched over; I thought, ‘I’m not letting any bloke touch a woman like that’,” he said.
“She was looking absolutely petrified, especially when he grabbed her and he had got her pinned against the wall. That’s when I ran across the road. I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him off her and got between him and the traffic warden and said, ‘You can’t go attacking women’.”
Mr Cornwall said that a number of the traffic warden’s colleagues turned up to come to her aid and the police were called. He then took the man across the road away from the woman.
Mr Cornwall said that the man had something stuffed up his shirt that turned out to be his jacket. He said the man reached inside the jacket at one point and he was fearful he may have produced a knife.
“When he reached for his inside pocket, he pulled a piece of paper out but, at first, I thought he was going to pull a knife,” he said.
He also hit out at the how the police handled the incident.
“They took more than 25 minutes to arrive and the traffic warden had to phone them up twice before they even turned up.”
Mr Cornwall also claimed that, when police did arrive, they continued to leave him standing ‘guarding’ the man while both officers spoke to the female traffic warden.
He said he was left alone with the man because the other traffic wardens went to speak to the police who were with their colleague.
“I was left in a vulnerable position and if police are going to respond to an incident like that, that is not protecting and serving the community,” he added.
“It was disgusting how it was handled; by the time they come it could have been a potentially dangerous situation and the police station was less than 100 yards away.”
An NSL spokesperson thanked Mr Cornwall for coming to the aid of their female employee: “We are aware of a minor incident this morning in Queen Street.
“We would like to thank the members of the public who stopped to support. NSL works very hard to support, train and equip our colleagues with the skills and qualifications they need to minimise these incidents.
“We firmly believe it is wrong to abuse people who are delivering an important service of keeping traffic flowing. Nobody should be treated badly for doing their job.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said that its officer responded to reports of an assault in Queen Street just after 11pm on Friday morning after which a 57-year-old man was arrested.
Chief Inspector Paul McCracken said: “Police officers are out on patrol while on duty, responding to calls and working to keep people safe. They do not spend their shifts within the station complex. We endeavour to respond to incidents as quickly as possible.
“Unfortunately, on Friday morning the officers were unavoidably delayed and so responded to the call in 22 minutes.
“When police arrived there was a large crowd of people present. Officers spoke immediately with the traffic warden who then identified the suspect who was standing quite a distance away.
“We would ask anyone who witnessed the incident to get in touch with police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 371 of 16/6/17.”
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