Police in Kent have caused outrage today after it emerged that one of their officers forcibly removed warm clothes from a rough sleeper in almost freezing temperatures after wrongly assuming the man had stolen them from a nearby branch of Primark.
A nurse who lives in nearby Medway had seen the homeless man in distress on Chatham High Street in December and decided to take action.
Fearing the man may freeze to death in the near sub-zero temperatures, the Good Samaritan went to Primark, where she bought a thermal hat, a scarf, four pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks for the homeless man.
Describing the scene, the nurse, who did not want to be identified, told Kent Online:
He wasn’t wearing any winter clothing and was very grateful when I gave it to him.
However, as the nurse was walking back past 15 minutes later, she was told by the homeless man that a police officer had forcibly removed his new warm clothes after assuming he had stolen them.
About 15 minutes later when I was walking back past Debenhams, he told me they had been confiscated by a police officer because he didn’t have the receipt to prove they had been paid for.
The nurse was able to track down the offending police officer after seeking advice from the public services stand in the High Street.
Questioning the police officer about the incident, the nurse went on to tell Kent Online that:
He [the police officer] said he thought they had been stolen as the man is a known thief and is banned from Chatham High Street.
He was talking about him to me in a derogatory manner. They’d made an easy presumption.
The officer was arrogant and defensive. He would not accept he had been mistaken and refused to apologise to me or the homeless man.
He just reiterated he was a known shoplifter.
The Good Samaritan finished her interview with Kent Online by stating that:
I’ve complained to the force and they’ve invited me to review the footage but I know what happened. I was there.
Sometimes you have to make a judgement and it’s wrong. But you should apologise.
I won’t have people be discriminated against. He wasn’t a thief on that day.
However, Kent police defended the actions of its officer, saying that:
Kent Police is aware of a member of the public’s concern regarding items of clothing purchased for a man in Chatham High Street on 14 December 2017.
An officer on patrol, who knew the man, wanted to make sure the items of clothing had been purchased legitimately and this was explained to both the man and the store from where they came. Once it was established they had been purchased legitimately, the items were returned to the person who bought them.
The incident has been reviewed at the request of person who bought the clothes and they have been invited to visit the station to view the body worn video captured by the officer at the scene.
What this incident shows is that Britain has become an increasingly heartless society.
No crime had been reported to the force, yet the police officer in question decided to confiscate the man’s clothes on the assumption that, because he had stolen before, he *must* have stolen these.
There have been numerous cases this winter of rough sleepers freezing to death in near sub-zero temperatures, and the callous actions of this particular jobsworth police officer could easily have resulted in the needless death of yet another homeless person.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the temperature was four degrees, not minus four degrees. Evolve Politics is happy to correct the record.
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