A TAGGER who was caught red-handed by a member of the public walked free when police told him there was no-one available to deal with him.

Two Police Community Support Officers were sent to confront the boy, who had been placed under citizen's arrest by council worker Richard Butler.

Mr Butler had seen a group of teenagers spraying the walls of the House of Fraser car park.

He intervened and detained the boy with the spray can in his hand.

The PCSOs decided to arrest the youngster, but as that was beyond their powers they called for a police officer to carry out the duty.

However, when they radioed through they were told no-one was able to come and deal with the boy.

Mr Butler, 56, said: "I was disgusted. I made an effort. I knew there was a big campaign going on to stop this graffiti and I thought I was just doing my bit to catch these people.

"The PCSOs were only allowed to detain them for half an hour. That's why they called the regular police to come and arrest them.

"They didn't have anyone available so they had to let them go.

"The PCSOs were annoyed themselves. These lads walked off calling them all the names under the sun."

The Adver launched a campaign to tackle graffiti earlier this year, working with the police and the council. There have been a number of taggers arrested.

The council has even offered cash rewards of £100 to catch the most prolific graffiti artists.

Mr Butler, from Grange Park, said: "I was going for my tea break and as I walked around the corner I saw a group of about five lads spraying the wall with an aerosol," he said.

"I made a citizen's arrest on the one with the can and I told him I was doing it for criminal damage.

"I took him back to the office and called the police and two PCSOs turned up.

"I told them what happened. He still had the aerosol can. They asked him various questions and they said they would call for a regular police officer.

"They got on the radio and were told no one was available so they had to let them go.

"With that they said I'm afraid we're going to have to let him go'.

"The next day these lads had come back and sprayed it all and made it worse, just to rub it in.

"I was trying to solve a problem and it makes you think, was it worth it? And it wasn't."

  • A 16-year-old has since been arrested in connection with the incident.