Published: 06:00, 12 August 2021
| Updated: 12:59, 12 August 2021
A shopkeeper has spoken out after being terrorised by a man for months, culminating in a stabbing last weekend.
Ashford kebab shop owner Imran Bajwa says the police "did almost nothing to help" while he and his staff lived in fear of the unknown assailant.
Mr Bajwa, who owns Ashford Pizza and Kebab in Tufton Street, says the problems started with an attack outside his shop in June, and escalated into a series of incidents ending up with the stabbing on Sunday night.
A man was arrested following the incident and has been taken into the care of mental health professionals, but Mr Bajwa says police officers could have stopped it from happening if they had acted on his calls.
"It was a guy who we didn't know. We exchanged words outside my shop and he attacked me," he said.
"I told the police, they came and I told them everything and offered CCTV footage. They said they would send someone and get it from the council cameras as well.
"Nothing really happened from then. Two weeks later I contacted them and they said the officer dealing with the case was on holiday and would get back to me. She never did."
The situation continued, with the unnamed man allegedly making several more moves to accost Mr Bajwa and his workers.
The shop owner says that two more reports were made to police on July 26 and 30, one of which reportedly included an incident where the man charged at the shop with a knife.
"I hid in the shop, locked the door, and phoned the police on 101 after he left almost immediately," Mr Bajwa explained.
"I said he was a constant threat, dangerous to me and the community, so please do something about it.
"They told me to just lock the door and go home, or lock the door and if anything happens to call 999. It was really disappointing.
'We could see this coming, and it could have been stopped...'
"The officer in charge of the case spoke to me, and said 'we clearly need to do something, we will get his image out and identify him'.
"I said that we didn't need that, he was around here almost every other day."
With still no action taken, the ongoing situation reportedly came to a head on Sunday evening, when Mr Bajwa says a man ran into the shop and stabbed one of his employees several times.
A police spokesman confirmed the victim, a man in his 20s, was treated at the scene and taken to hospital.
A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault at a nearby residential address, where officers also seized a carving fork.
He was later released from custody into the care of mental health professionals but remains under investigation, while inquiries into the incident are ongoing.
"We could see this coming, and it could have been stopped," Mr Bajwa said.
"We don't feel like it was taken seriously, the fact that he's been arrested is one thing but it could have been prevented from happening in the first place."
A police spokeswoman said that while incidents on June 17 and July 26 were reported, the force has no record of any report on July 30.
Ashford Chief Inspector Simon Johnson said: "We are aware of a reported assault at a business premises in Tufton Street which took place on June 17.
"Kent Police subsequently received a further report regarding the sighting of a possible suspect on June 26 but during the call, the force was informed the individual had left the scene and his whereabouts were unknown.
"At this stage, we are looking into whether the assault on 17 June and the assault on 8 August are linked.
"However we will liaise with the victims and the business within which the assaults took place to provide them with appropriate updates and further support should they need it."