Pokémon Go hunters in Hampshire got a surprise at the weekend – as two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) broke off from a bike patrol to help join in on a search for creatures in the hugely popular game, launched last month as an augmented reality smartphone app.
The Mirror reports that the PCSOs joined in with Pokémon Go Trainers at Portsmouth’s Victoria Park, a known hotspot locally to track down rare characters in the game.
One of those present, Connor Paul, aged 24, told the newspaper: "I was at Victoria Park playing Pokémon with my girlfriend and others.”
He snapped a picture of the officers playing the game with some of the other people present, but said it “doesn't show it there was a lot of people there.”
He went on: "At first I thought the officers were going to cycle through but they stopped when they heard there was a Bulbasaur nearby.
"They got out their phones and they started looking around for it too. They were really friendly and happy to chat to anyone.
"They left smiling and they looked pretty happy, so I guess they got the Pokémon they wanted.
"Afterwards they got on their bikes again and carried on through the park, they stopped again too.
"I think initially a lot of people saw them coming and thought they were there to monitor people, but it turned out they play too," he added.
Hampshire Constabulary said the episode was an example of how officers can build ties with the local community.
"We encourage our officers to engage with those within our communities, to get out and about and talk to people,” said a spokeswoman.
"It is an important part of neighbourhood policing so that people know we are there for them if they need us and that we are approachable.
"Our PCSOs spend a lot of time interacting with young people to help break down any barriers because when there is a problem young people are more likely to have the confidence to report it to someone who they trust and respect."
Concerns have been expressed about whether Pokémon Go could create danger for cyclists, with some motorists using it at the wheel of their vehicles – including in London, where a helmet camera user passed footage to the police.
Meanwhile, last month, a woman was arrested in the United States after she allegedly stole a child’s bicycle so she could get around more quickly as she searched for Pokémon.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.