The small historic of town of Knaresborough found itself in the news yesterday (16th October). The story as it developed saw reports of a gunman loose in the town, the local school going into lockdown with terrified pupils cowering in the school hall and amateur footage showing the arrest of several men in the high street.
It later turned out that the whole thing was a hoax. A call was made alleging bomb making activity and a firearm at a Knaresborough pizza takeaway. It’s not clear at the time of writing whether the call was an ill judged practical joke or whether there was a more deliberately malicious intent involved. Certainly the innocent takeaway workers arrested are said – understandably – to be distressed over the incident.
So twenty four hours later what have we learnt from this incident? What observations should we make?
1, The police are on record of saying they were obliged to respond the way they did. To be fair to the police they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
2, However the publicity around the event surely makes it open season for hoaxers. Make a hoax call and be safe in the knowledge that you will cause panic and disruption at the very least.
3, The accused men were of foreign origin (Bangladeshi in this case). If they were British or a more discrimination proof demographic would we have seen a similar reaction? I think we all know the answer.
4, The Harrogate Advertiser gets it wrong – as usual. Amateur footage of the arrests were published on their website without any pixellation of those being arrested at gunpoint. Perhaps they were upset that something had actually happened in town just as the weekly papers were going to press. I’ve just checked and the video is still there.
Still, at least the latest reports suggest that the town is rallying around the victims of the hoax which is re-assuring. HAD the initial reports been true 16/10/13 could have been Knaresborough’s darkest day. It will be remembered now as the day mass hysteria came to town.