Pub prankster sparks major police response after entering site wearing 'fake suicide vest'

By Georgina Townshend contact

- Last updated on GMT

Prankster walked into the Dancing Moose (pictured) dressed in a fake suicide vest. (Image: Google Maps)
Prankster walked into the Dancing Moose (pictured) dressed in a fake suicide vest. (Image: Google Maps)

Related tags: Poole, Terrorism

An "idiotic" prankster, who sparked a major police response when he entered a Poole pub wearing a fake suicide vest and balaclava, has agreed to write a letter of apology to its owners after causing "alarm and distress".

At 5.30pm on Wednesday, 1 November, Dorset Police received reports that a man entered the Dancing Moose in Station Road, Ashley Cross, wearing a balaclava with canisters taped to his body with duct tape.

The man, who was being filmed by two other men, did not say anything and left shortly afterwards.

According to police, an extensive search followed, involving the police helicopter and armed officers in order to locate the man and protect the public. 

'Extensive' resources deployed

However, after seeing an appeal issued by Dorset Police, one of the men involved contacted officers and claimed it had been “a prank”, and that the canisters were “rolls of packing tape and no viable device was involved”.

The next day, 2 November, the man who walked into the pub wearing the fake canisters voluntarily attended Poole police station and was interviewed.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Callaghan, of Dorset Police, said: “This misguided prank sparked an immediate police response which saw extensive resources deployed to the scene to ensure members of the public were protected.

“While these officers were looking for the individuals involved they were prevented from responding to legitimate emergency 999 calls.

“The actions of this man was irresponsible and nothing short of idiotic.”

"Very sorry"

Police said the 24-year-old local man fully admitted a public order offence for causing alarm and distress and an offence under the Criminal Law Act for wasting police time.

He told officers he was “very sorry” for his actions and has accepted a community resolution disposal and agreed to write letters of apology to both the pub and the member of public who called 999.

All three men involved will be visited by armed police officers, who will explain about the police response and give words of advice and education, said police. 

Callaghan continued: “We always have to treat a reported threat as genuine until we can establish otherwise.

“I am satisfied this was a hoax and that no members of the public were at risk.

"This was a fast-moving incident and I would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding during this incident and praise the professionalism of the officers deployed.” 

The Morning Advertiser​ has contacted the Dancing Moose, but had not received a reply by the time of publishing.

  • Thankfully this was just a hoax. However, following multiple incidents this year, pubs should be aware of how to react during a terror attack. For the latest advice from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office specifically for pubs and bars, click here​.

Related topics: Health & safety

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