A QUICK-THINKING PCSO helped police snare a suspected sex attacker by chaining his getaway bike to park railings with a new lock.

The suspect thought he had given a police helicopter and pursuing officers the slip when he returned to pick up the bike he had used to get to Southchurch Hall Park, Southend.

But supersleuth Julie McFadden knew he would return to it, so borrowed a bike lock to scupper his attempts to escape.

She lay in wait with other officers to capture him as he frantically tried to unlock his bike.

Julie, 46, who has been a police community support officer for seven years, said: “He got the biggest shock. He thought he had got away, but then he had a puzzled look on his face. Hewas looking up the road and back at his bike wondering who had locked his bike up.

“It was a bit of creativity and it’s quite funny. There was a police helicopter flying around and officers on the roads, yet something so simple managed to apprehend him.”

Police were called to reports a man was exposing himself in an area off Park Lane on Sunday.

PCs Ben Lever and Rebecca Wells were first on the scene and tried to arrest him, but he ran off.

A major search began, but Julie had another plan and police pretended to call off the search in the hope the man would return for the bike. Hours later, he did and after a chase through an alleyway he was caught.

Julie added: “It was neighbourhood policing at its best. We had support from all of Essex Police and it was real teamwork.”

Ms McFadden was praised by her bosses for her actions. Chief Insp Simon Anslow, district commander for Southend, said: “Our wonderful PCSO solved it.

“She was able to come up with this idea and it worked fantastically.

“She demonstrates that police are part of the community. Her positive work can increase the public’s confidence in our service as well as reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.”

The 43-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure and also for an attempted rape, which took place in the park on May 29. He has been bailed until October 13 pending further inquiries.