Prince Harry 'shocked' by riots

Pat Hurst,Paul Keaveny
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:26

Prince Harry went walkabout on the precinct in Salford today, and spoke of his "shock and outrage" at the violence suffered by police during last week's riots in the city.

The prince, who has served in war-torn Afghanistan and is now training to become an Apache helicopter pilot, heard how riot police had to retreat in the face of rocks and bricks raining down from hundreds of rioters.

He toured battle-scarred Salford Precinct to see the boarded-up shops that were looted and torched during the mayhem.

Local police chiefs said their officers faced "ferocious" levels of violence which was "organised and orchestrated" by criminal gangs.

Prince Harry dropped in at Pendleton police station, on the edge of the precinct, to speak to 39 officers injured in the trouble and swapped stories about army colleagues who had also been injured in the line of duty.

Pc Andy Sheridan said: "Harry was very shocked. He said he had seen pictures and footage on Google and was shocked and outraged by what he had seen."

The officer, based at Salford, said to Prince Harry: "In 20 years of policing, last Tuesday was the most frightening thing I've ever encountered."

Prince Harry replied: "I think it's fantastic what you guys have done to keep a lid on it. It seems really quiet out there in Salford now."

The 26-year-old royal, who took a day out from helicopter training with the Army Air Corps at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk to travel to Salford, told the officers: "You all did a fantastic job on the night and it's great to see Manchester and Salford back on its feet.

"As an army officer I really respect the work you guys do and I can't praise your bravery high enough."

Salford neighbourhood officer Pc Stu Mulqueeney said: "I was really glad it was him who came to visit because he's probably the most grounded royal and he has been in some pretty hostile situations himself."

The prince was mobbed by well-wishers, kept at bay by police officers, after leaving the police station to go on a sometimes chaotic walkabout at the precinct over the road.

Ismail Patel, 43, told the prince how one of his shops was ransacked and torched, causing £90,000 of damage.

Mr Patel, owner of a second shop on the precinct which escaped damage, said Prince Harry "basically felt sorry for what happened.

"It is a good thing for us - at least somebody feels about us.

"It is a good feeling for me, he is a big person.

"I really appreciated he visited me, I didn't expect this to happen in my life."

Earlier the prince spoke to members of Blue Watch at Salford Fire Station who were pelted with bricks while trying to put out blazes as rioters torched shops and cars.

Firefighter Lee Gannon, 36, from St Helens, Merseyside, who spoke to the prince, said: "It was bedlam. We got our first bell at 6.02pm on Tuesday night and got back to the station at 3.30am the following day.

"The prince was asking how we all were and what it was like."

Firefighter Max Murphy, 28, from Salford, added: "He was expressing some dismay really.

"He's seen footage from the CCTV cameras, missiles being launched at fire engines, bricks, rocks, anything they could get their hands on.

"He was also expressing thanks for what we had all done."

Salford Ambulance Station also welcomed the royal visitor, where paramedics spoke of their role treating and evacuating casualties.

Paramedic Neil Bruckshaw, 41, from Salford, introduced his two-year-old son Harry to the prince.

He said: "It was like when Harry met Harry."

Mr Bruckshaw said his son rehearsed saying "Hello sir, I'm Harry Bruckshaw" with his mother.

He added: "I was born in Salford and I've worked in this station for 19 years. In my time I have not witnessed anything like that before."

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