Man arrested after eight ambulances vandalised and forced out of service during coronavirus crisis

Chris Baynes
The health service has declared a national major incident over the coronavirus outbreak: Shutterstock / Ajit Wick

A man has been arrested after eight ambulances were damaged in Kent, forcing them out of service as medics across the UK contend with the spread of coronavirus.

The 47-year-old from Ramsgate, Thanet, was detained on Wednesday morning on suspicion of causing criminal damage on two dates last month.

Kent Police had launched an appeal after holes were drilled into nine tyres on six ambulances at a depot overnight on Saturday 21 March.

South East Coast Ambulance Service was forced to take the vehicles off the road for repairs, and said it was “beyond disappointed that anyone would do this ever, let alone now when our staff are under so much pressure”.

A week later, further damage was caused to three tyres on two ambulances at the same depot.

Police have continued to appeal for witnesses after taking the man into custody for questioning.

Chief Inspector Ed Ruffle, district commander for Thanet, thanked those who have already come forward with information.

He said: "To cause damage to ambulances during a time when it is so important all medical resources are available, is deeply concerning and we are continuing to carry out additional patrols in the area.”

There have been 460 coronavirus cases and 23 deaths in Kent, according to the latest Public Health England figures.