Anger as police complaint becomes net hit

IT is a frustration most people have felt at one time or another, hanging on the phone, waiting in vain to be connected to the service they need.

Click here to read the emails >>But one Leith man responded in an extreme way when he couldn't get through to the police after waiting around 20 minutes for someone to pick up the phone.

He sent off a sarcastic and hilarious e-mail expressing his frustration. However, his brief correspondence with the force has not remained private, as he expected.

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It has instead become a minor internet phenomenon, having been sent to countless offices and homes and posted on at least 15 websites. The e-mail writer has been left furious at what he sees as a breach of confidence by the police.

He insists that it must have been leaked to a member of the public by a police officer but the force is not investigating. The Evening News has agreed to withhold the e-mail writer's name as he fears he may be targeted by youths he has complained about.

He sent the e-mail message after three weeks of putting up with a group of teenagers causing a racket, playing football and messing about with furniture abandoned in West Cromwell Street, near his home.

Concerned that the youths, aged around 16 to 18, might be tempting disaster by playing with a gas canister, he tried in vain to telephone the police. His partner said he had composed his tirade after being driven to distraction by the failure of anyone to answer the phone.

She said: "It had been going on for a while and the police were doing nothing about it. He sent the e-mail to try to make his point that he wasn't happy.

"Then on Monday I got a phone call from a friend. She works at a recruitment agency and the e-mail had landed in her office. She recognised the address and told me about it.

"We were angry. It was supposed to be a confidential e-mail to the police about the problems we were having.

"We never sent it to anyone but the station, so the leak came from the police."

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The message has already popped up on a bewildering array of websites, including ones dedicated to parenting, clubbing and cycling, as well as the Dundee University Sub Aqua Club. The sender and his partner were due to visit Leith police station today to discuss the leaking of the e-mail with a senior officer.

The message has also been circulated among officers at the Fettes force HQ since being sent to the police on August 25.

Community beat officer Pc John Pennycook sent an e-mail back urging the resident to contact him about the nuisance problem.

In a second e-mail, the frustrated resident expresses surprise at learning his street has a beat officer, congratulating Pc Pennycook on his "covert skills".

Last week, Pc Pennycook visited the street again to talk with the youths, but residents say the antisocial behaviour has continued.

The sender's partner added: "The police say they want to engage with the kids, which basically means talking to them and then leaving them to it. They've not stayed away."

Another resident in West Cromwell Street said the teenagers had been damaging property and shouting and swearing at residents for months. The pensioner added: "They use the area as a football pitch and cause a racket here most nights. The police don't seem to do much about it."

A police spokesman said: "A complaint regarding youths playing football in a street in north Leith was received by Lothian and Borders Police and was brought to the attention of the community beat officer for the area. Since receiving the complaint, the beat officer has met with the resident and outlined the police response to this issue."