Van man sparks security scare at Blackpool mental health unit

The Harbour, in Preston New Road, Marton
The Harbour, in Preston New Road, Marton

A mental health hospital in Blackpool has increased security after a man sparked a major alert by driving menacingly towards the front gate.

Police were called when the man in a white Transit van was seen driving towards the barrier several times and then waving what appeared to be a petrol can at staff.

The incident happened in the early hours of Friday and prompted bosses of The Harbour in Preston New Road to double the presence of security staff at the entrance to the hospital.

A police spokesman said the man had been “coming and going all night” and was seen to be “speeding towards the gates and swerving.”

“Officers have spoken to him and he was sent on his way. He didn’t have any petrol,” explained the spokesman.

The management of The Harbour reportedly told staff in a memo: “A member of the public was driving erratically in a white transit van in The Harbour car park, he appeared to be driving towards the barriers in the front of reception before stopping.

“He was seen to drop a ‘package’ outside of reception (police were able to confirm this was a bird box).

“The man then later arrived at The Harbour and appeared to take out a petrol container from the van and making threatening gestures towards staff the police are now working with us on this.

“As a precaution there will be at least two members of staff at reception and the doors to The Harbour will be locked requiring staff to open the doors for people to enter.”

The memo called on all staff to be “vigilant” when entering and leaving the car park and building.

Anyone with concerns was advised to contact the police “immediately.”

James Harper, from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We can confirm that there was an incident on the car park at The Harbour in the early hours of March 23.

“The police attended the unit and extra security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of our staff and service users.”