Police mistake student actors in Portstewart for armed robbers

Police issue warning after Dungannon man scammed following phone call
Police issue warning after Dungannon man scammed following phone call

Police have swooped on student actors filming a staged armed robbery after mistaking them for genuine criminals.

Officers confronted one of the group - a man wearing a balaclava and carrying a fake gun - and ordered him to drop the weapon.

The incident unfolded at a takeaway restaurant on the promenade of the popular seaside town of Portstewart in Northern Ireland.

It is understood the film students from Ulster University had sought permission from the eatery and contacted the local council, but had not told police about their plans.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief inspector Catherine Magee said officers responded to Wednesday’s incident after receiving a report from a concerned member of the public.

“Police responded quickly to the report, arriving on scene within six minutes,” she said.

“Attending officers witnessed a man wearing a balaclava and brandishing a handgun inside the premises. Officers approached and the man was ordered to put the weapon on the ground.

“It subsequently transpired that the scenario had been staged by some local students and the situation was quickly de-escalated.

“The call from the member of the public was genuine and made in good faith, believing that an armed robbery was taking place.

“The officers involved responded professionally and appropriately, as I would expect them to, given that this was a report of armed robbery with the potential risk to life and property such a report implies. Their focus was, as always, keeping people safe.”

Ms Magee said she had contacted the university and hoped to have an “informal chat” with the students involved.

An Ulster University spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the incident in Portstewart yesterday and are working closely with the PSNI.

“The University plans to conduct a full investigation.”