POLICE and charity bosses have criticised people who goaded and filmed a vulnerable man after he climbed onto a fourth-storey hotel window ledge.
A 21-year-old guest at the Mercure Darlington Kings Hotel made his way onto the ledge yesterday (Wednesday, August 20) lunchtime, sparking a two-hour stand-off.
Trained police negotiators persuaded the man – said to be a visitor from the Wiltshire area – to return to the building.
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He was taken to hospital, voluntarily, where his mental health was last night being assessed.
A large crowd gathered to watch the unfolding drama, which caused large parts of Darlington town centre to be cordoned off.
Although most were supportive of the man – there was spontaneous applause and cheering when the incident ended safely – a number were seen filming developments on smartphones and video cameras.
Some shouted abuse and a minority even encouraged the man to jump.
Inspector Chris Knox, of Darlington police, who co-ordinated the emergency response to the incident, said while he understood the disruption was frustrating for some people, he did not agree with those who shouted abuse.
Behind the cordon in Bondgate
He said: "I do not understand that mindset.
"Firstly, it disrupts the emergency services dealing with the incident and some of the comments could have made the decision whether someone jumps or not.
"Filming incidents such as this is discouraged, you have got to think about the human rights and privacy of the person involved.
"People should consider how they would have felt if it was their son or grandson up there."
Insp Knox's comments were echoed by the charity Samaritans, which offers support to people experiencing despair and suicidal thoughts.
A spokeswoman said: "When it’s clear a person is in a vulnerable position, contemplating suicide, or harming themselves, it’s important to encourage them to talk to someone, perhaps try to get them to go to a place of safety.
"Goading or taking photos can exacerbate the situation and is not helpful."
Police were called to the incident at about 12.10pm and the man returned to the building at 2.10pm.
Ambulance and fire crews also attended, while Darlington town centre rangers also helped to manage the crowd.
Insp Knox added: "Emergency services were satisfied with the resolution of the situation.
"The main thing is that nobody was injured, there was no further disruption and we brought the incident to an end at the earlier possible opportunity."
Johnathon Cairns, Operations Manager with Mercure Hotels, confirmed the man was a guest.
"All hotel staff are delighted to know that the gentleman is now safe and well in the hands of the medics and Durham Police Constabulary," he said. "The gentleman was a resident at the hotel, and we had no concerns over his wellbeing due to his communication with staff and his general demeanour. We are all shocked by the incident.
"I would like to extend our gratitude to all the emergency services involved with turning this situation around and ensuring a safe conclusion. We wish the gentleman well for the future."
Samaritans is available around the clock for anyone who needs support. Call 08457-909-090, or email firstname.lastname@example.org