A SUSPECT on the run from police in Erith had to be rescued after jumping into the Thames and attacking the lifeguard crew.

A police helicopter, officers and the Gravesend RNLI were called to help the 30-year-old man who leapt into the river by Erith Causeway at around 4.40pm on June 26.

Carpenter Mark McDermott, 43, was working on the old Cross Keys pub when he saw a policewoman in a car approach a man and two women on Erith High Street.

The Ingress Park, Greenhithe, resident said: "The policewoman pulled up by him and called him over but he ran off.

"The women just carried on walking. I just thought it was an awful waste of money with the amount of police there.

"I know they have got to try and save people's lives but what a prat to jump in the water."

Barman Jamie Bennett, 19, was off-duty at Potion on the High Street when the incident occured.

The Brantwood Road, Barnehurst, resident said: "The policewoman jumped out of the car with a dog which she kept on the lead as there were lots of kids around.

"She said to me that he'd beaten someone up and that was why she was chasing him. "As soon as he jumped in the river he was shouting that he couldn't swim.

"After he got in the boat he tried struggling to get back out of it again and two lifeboat people had to hold him down. "By the time he got out he was shaking."

A Gravesend RNLI spokesman said: "The casualty was recovered, but became belligerent and started trying to fight with the crew whilst being taken to the causeway."

A Bexley Police spokesman said officers were called to an alleged assault outside Signpost in Erith High Street at 4.14pm.

On arrival they were re-directed to James Watt Way, Erith, to a man in the River Thames. T The coastguard, Met air support and marine support units also responded.

Following the rescue the man was arrested on suspicion of an affray and has since been bailed.

Anyone with information on the incident should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111