'POWER OF CCTV': PC Olly Henton
POLICE have praised CCTV operators after a man was arrested within minutes of making a hoax bomb call.
David Legg, 20, of Peryam Crescent, St Loyes, Exeter, taunted officers from a payphone outside the Waterstone's bookshop in the High Street.
He told the force that a bomb had been planted in the Heavitree Road Police Station and warned them it would go off in 20 minutes.
Officers traced the call and asked operators for an instant review of footage taken in the street and a description of the man using the phone.
This was quickly relayed to two officers in the area who arrested Legg in Sidwell Street.
PC Olly Henton said there was no more than five minutes between the hoax call and arrest on Thursday, September 2. CCTV footage also played a part in securing a conviction when Legg changed his plea from innocent to guilty at Exeter Magistrates' Court.
PC Henton said the case highlighted the importance of the camera system, which has faced funding cuts.
Legg was sentenced to 14 days in prison at the court last week after admitting communicating information that he knew to be false with the intention of making them believe a bomb was on the premises.
When he committed the crime, Legg was subject to a curfew and had been electronically tagged after making threats to bomb the Vaults pub in Gandy Street last month.
PC Henton said: "This demonstrates the power of CCTV in quickly tracking down offenders. Within two minutes of the call, we had an accurate description of the only person who had used the phone box.
"The culprit was already on a tagging order for a similar offence and had left the court with no options but to send him into custody."
PC Henton said making hoax calls wasted police time, caused alarm and fear and was taken extremely seriously by the force.
The city's CCTV control room was set up by Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and the police force.
Cuts approved by the city council in March will see the number of staff at the CCTV control room reduced.
There are fears that the cuts will reduce the effectiveness of the system and door staff in Exeter are among those who have campaigned against them.