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Armed police saw door down in Walsoken incident involving 89-year-old man

Norfolk police have defended their actions after sawing their way into an elderly man’s home and dispatching armed officers to the property.

The incident on Wednesday saw at least nine police cars and over 10 officers, including an armed unit, attending the property in Broad End West Walsoken in response to what a spokesperson described as “a concern for the safety” of the occupant incident.

However, a neighbour of the 89-year-old man involved, Geoffrey Doubleday, said the whole thing was “overkill” and said there had been no need for the police’s reaction.

Geoffrey Doubleday who's backdoor has been smashed in by the police.. (47112298)
Geoffrey Doubleday who's backdoor has been smashed in by the police.. (47112298)

Describing what happened the witness, who did not want to be named, said he had already been at the property to discuss the sale of .22 rifle firearm when the police firearms officer turned up to discuss the Mr Doubleday’s gun licence and weapons. The licence was due for renewal next month.

The witness, a farmer, said: “He wanted me to look at the gun with a view to selling it for him. But to be honest it was in very poor condition, I’m not even sure it would fire. So when the licensing officer turned up I handed it to him and he said he would put it in an auction. I explained to Geoffrey that was the best solution all round and he seemed happy. I had to go but as I was leaving I did hear Geoffrey say ‘perhaps I should keep the gun in case I want to shoot myself’.

“I turned round and said ‘that was a stupid thing to say’, but as I had an appointment I couldn’t stay.

“The next thing I know, when I get home there are police cars everywhere and at least 10 officers, there’s even a bloke flying a drone over Geoffrey’s house.When I asked what was going on they told me Geoffrey had locked himself in the house and had threatened to self-harm with a gun.

“But the firearms licensing officer had the gun, because I had given it to him, and as far as I was aware there were no others in the house.

“Geoffrey told me he had locked himself in because they wanted to take his firearms certificate. Apparently he had made some comment about getting another gun as he still had his licence and then refused to hand over the licence when he was asked.

“It seemed a bit over the top to me to have so many police and armed officers everywhere over a licence, which he said he would hand over once he had a photocopy of it for his records.

“We have had loads of incidents of crime down here. I have had a tractor stolen, all the fish from my fishery taken, I have alarms going off in the middle of the night, but can’t seem to get a proper response from police.

“But an elderly man makes a stupid comment and this happens.”

Mr Doubleday said he was most annoyed by the fact the officers had sawn through a solid oak door to get into the property.

He said: “They were banging on the door and demanding to be let in but I refused. I didn’t want them in my house, I haven’t had the second jab and I have been self isolating.

“They told me they didn’t think I was safe to have a gun and wanted my gun licence, but it was up for renewal in a month’s time and I was not planning on renewing it. They wanted to come in and search for the licence and so they sawed my lovely solid oak door in half to get in. They then searched my property.”

A police spokesman said: “Officers were called at 11.30am this morning (Wednesday) following concerns for the safety of a man who had locked himself inside an address in Broad End West and was threatening to self-harm. As a result of information received specialist officers were deployed to the scene. The incident was resolved safely a short time later.”

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