Police 'arrest' scarecrow - for impersonating a traffic officer

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A scarecrow dressed to look like a traffic cop didn't go down too well with real police officers.

In fact they took the matter so seriously when they heard about it a patrol car on the way to the scene of a fatal crash was diverted to pay the scarecrow's owner, Christopher Strong, a visit.

And after ordering him to take it down, officers warned him that he could be accused of impersonating a policeman.
Long arm of the straw: Mr Strong with his scarecrow 'traffic officer'

Mr Strong, 58, dressed the one-legged straw dummy in a fluorescent yellow jacket from Halfords and a police hat from a joke shop for a village scarecrow competition.

He added a striped tie, epaulettes and a home-made badge reading "Scarecrow Traffic Policy'. His creation was completed with a speed gun fashioned from a ladies' hairdryer and a broken solar light from his garden.

But just a day after he propped the scarecrow on top of his privet hedge in the village of Mickle Trafford, near Chester, pointing its fake speed gun along the busy A56 main road in the hope it would deter motorists from speeding, he felt the full force of the law.

"It caused a real stir in the village," said Mr Strong. "The officers were rather brusque and told me they had received several complaints from motorists who thought it was a real police officer and that it could cause an accident if a car braked suddenly.

"I couldn't believe it. Then, perfectly seriously, they told me to remove the policeman's hat and the hairdryer camera or I may be accused of impersonating a police officer.

"I explained that it was a scarecrow in a competition with a head full of straw and one leg, but they were not in the least amused."
As the scarecrow was on the hedge before real police turned up

Mr Strong refused to change the uniform of his scarecrow, but was ordered to move it out of sight of drivers on the road. It now resides behind the hedge.

Villagers were stunned by the police response and Audra Goodall, who organised the competition to raise money for the local primary school, has written to Mr Strong saying: "I know many people in the village thought your entry was fantastic - surely anything which slows the traffic down through Mickle Trafford is a good thing."

She added: "Before organising the competition I visited the police to ask if there was any guidance to making scarecrows. They certainly did not mention anything about making a scarecrow police officer."

A Cheshire police spokesman said: "There appears to be a little misunderstanding. What we meant was that if a member of the public was wearing clothes like those the scarecrow was wearing, they could be prosecuted for impersonating a police officer.

"We did not intend Mr Strong to think either he or his scarecrow would be prosecuted."

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