More and more evidence of the growing totalitarianism trend in England today. This time, they didn’t even have the flimsy excuse of a complaint.
By Rob Cooper
Last updated at 7:07 PM on 5th September 2011
When a party shop owner put a mannequin dressed as Colonel Gaddafi on the run in his doorway, he thought passers-by would see the funny side of it.
But two heavy-handed PCSOs marched into the store – and told staff to take down because it was ‘offensive’.
The mock-Gaddafi – dressed in bright pink tights and clutching a sign which read ‘you ain’t seen me right’ – was meant as a light-hearted prank.
Owner Peter Tooley never dreamed that his store would be accused of stirring up tensions.
Staff at the store in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, said today they were surprised by the police over-reaction because no one had complained about the stunt.
Shop assistant Cath Jewitt, 68, said that she took the mannequin down immediately after being ‘advised’ it was inappropriate.
A police spokesman confirmed the PCSOs had acted even though nobody had complained.
Mrs Jewitt, who has worked at the store for the last nine years, said: ‘The police came to the counter and said they had reservations about displaying the mannequin and advised us to take it down. We did remove it straight away.
‘It’s about having a joke – maybe there’s someone who didn’t have a sense of humour. It was in the shop doorway with glasses on and wasn’t offensive.
‘For St Patrick’s Day we put outrageous costumes outside and the same for St Andrew’s Day. We had a man dressed in a tartan with frilly knickers on underneath and no one complained.
‘It’s all a joke really – if we make people laugh they come into the shop so we’re trying to be fun.’
Peter Tooley, who runs Party Time in Eccleshall Road, Sheffield, added: ‘I think it’s very funny, I can’t imagine why anyone would complain about it.’
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said that it was feared some people may think the mannequin is ‘inappropriate’.
‘Two PCSOs, on normal patrol duties called into the shop to ask if they would mind taking the mannequin out of the shop window, as some people may find it inappropriate,’ he said.
‘This advice was given in an attempt to prevent possible community tension on a sensitive issue.’
The mannequin has now been dressed as Where’s Wally.