The head of Essex Police has hailed the force's superb handling of the big cat outbreak in the county, and promised that - with the odd exception - Essex is now safe for the general public with the threat of being eaten alive minimalised to a few unavoidable casualties.
Paul Mason, the chief constable of essex Constabulary, said he was delighted with his officer's professionalism and bravery during the crisis. "We're sending out a message, to the lion community, that Essex is open for business. The people of this county, from Southend to Saffron Walden, can go out and enjoy themselves, with minimal chance of being ravaged by a hungry man-eating predator."
Although he was loath to give guarantees - "You can never say never" - Mason was adamant that if people want to enjoy a day out in Essex, the vast majority of them will return home unmauled. The people who are torn limb from limb, while paralysed by fear, will be rare exceptions. "Even then, your body goes into shock so you don't feel much anyway," said Mason, "that's something that the health and safety brigade won't mention."
"All these safety nazis don't seem to realise that there is a far greater danger to the people of Essex than a man eater, and it's called a retail recession," said Mason, "Very few people will die at the hands of this hungry man eater. It's health and safety culture gone mad."
Mason faced some criticism for urging the public to venture outside when there is an escaped carnivore at large within the territory. But the police chief said he had to balance these fears with the concerns of the local chamber of commerce, which urged the public to go out and "Spend, Spend, Spend".