A CAFE owner who tried to make a citizen’s arrest after being threatened by a gang of yobs was HIMSELF arrested on suspicion of assault.
Bob Young, 53, claims the gang of teenage skateboard hoodies had been hanging around his business in Brighton for months, tormenting him and his customers.
He said they started shouting and threatening to break his windows so he held one by the shoulders to detain him while his partner, Sarah Hills, called police.
However when EIGHT officers arrived, they let the boy go – and arrested Mr Young.
Mr Young, who describes himself as an “upright and well-respected member of the community”, was held in a police cell for 12 hours before being released on police bail.
He refused to accept a caution, insisting he had done nothing wrong, and is now waiting to hear if he will be charged with assault.
This is the SECOND time he has been arrested for standing up to thugs. He was cleared of assault by Brighton magistrates in 2007 after he was hauled into court for confronting a different gang of older youths who had threatened to stab him.
He and Ms Hills, 49, have run the As You Like It Cafe in Brighton city centre for 13 years.
Mr Young said the most recent incident, on April 12, left him bruised and shaken.
He said: “I was closing up the cafe when a gang of 15-year-olds came round the corner on their skateboards.
“Before I knew it, I was surrounded by eight hoodies swearing and trying to provoke me.
“They have been coming here for months, upsetting my customers, calling me names and even throwing stones at Sarah.
“I was scared they would attack me, so I picked up one of their skateboards to stop them using it as a weapon.
“Then this little so-and-so said ‘I’m going to break your f***ing windows you old c***!”
“That’s when I made a citizen’s arrest on him and Sarah called the police. I have a right to defend my property, and I won’t be called words like that.
“One of the boy’s friends started punching me in the arm, but I held on.
“I am not a strong man. I have weak lungs and suffer from blood clots and a serious gut disease. But I held on because I wanted justice. I was very careful not to hurt him.”
Mr Young, who had already called police out twice this year over anti-social problems with the same gang, said he was sickened by what happened next.
He said: “Eight police officers turned up, spoke to the kid, and arrested me.
“They wouldn’t listen to a word I said, or to friends who saw what happened. They said they weren’t independent witnesses.
“The police acted as judge and jury and got everything the wrong way round.
“I am the victim, but there I was in handcuffs.
“They held me in the cells for 12 hours, while the little brat got off scot-free.”
A Sussex Police spokesman said Mr Young’s reaction was “disproportionate”.
He said: “There was no criminal activity by the youths, no violence shown by the victim and we believe that the action of the arrested man was disproportionate and displayed unnecessary aggression.
“A number of witnesses have come forward and our enquiries are continuing.”
He said skateboarding was not an offence and therefore Mr Young had no right to touch the youth.
However Mr Young said: “I didn’t try to arrest him because he was skateboarding. He made explicit threats and I was worried for my safety and that of my customers.
“I hope they charge me. I want my day in court. I just don’t have any confidence in the police at the moment.
“The youth of today are out of control. Something in society is broken when children go around swearing and threatening adults without fear of punishment.
“I refuse to give up the right to defend my property.”
Professor Gloria Laycock, an expert in crime prevention who worked at the Home Office for more than 30 years, said police need to be much clearer about when people can make citizen’s arrests.
She said: “The whole area is ambiguous.
“Anyone is allowed to make a citizen’s arrest if they use reasonable force, but it is not at all clear what ‘reasonable force’ actually is.
“And it is unclear whether you can arrest someone if they are about to break the law, or for threatening you.
“This is a big problem, because if we are going to have any chance of tackling anti-social behaviour people must be prepared to intervene.
“The idea that the police can stop this kind of behaviour without public help is just plain wrong.
“I think we need to get back to a culture where adults are prepared to restrain misbehaving children without being afraid they will end up being arrested themselves.”
**In March this year, Sussex Police apologised for arresting restaurant owner Sal Miah, from Crowborough, East Sussex, after he restrained a youth who was breaking into his alcohol storeroom.
**In June, 2008 the same force apologised to Frank McCourt, an ex-soldier from Crawley, West Sussex, who was arrested for kidnap after he made a citizen’s arrest on a hooligan who attacked his home.
**In September last year courier driver Roland Digby, from Royston, Hertfordshire, was arrested for assault after he restrained a 16-year-old yob who threw apples at his house. Charges against Mr Digby were later dropped.
John Connor Press Associates – covering Sussex for the national press.
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