Thursday, August 21, 2014

Innocent couple branded shoplifters in British CCTV release

They should sue

An innocent young couple found themselves wrongly accused of shoplifting after bungling police issued a CCTV 'wanted' photograph of the pair to the public.

CCTV shots of Charlotte and James Cozens shopping in their local Boots with their three-year-old son were sent to the media as part of a "caught on camera" appeal.

They were accompanied by a description of the pair and details of how they stashed stolen goods in their toddler's pushchair.

The release also came with the warning to the public not to approach the couple who were suspected of similar raids at other Boots stores.

Charlotte, 22, an NHS worker, knew nothing about the investigation until a friend texted her a link to the picture on a local newspaper's website.

By then it had been published for more than 24 hours and had been shared 250 times on Facebook - with users branding Charlotte a thief and a "bad mum".

Horrified Charlotte protested to Devon and Cornwall Police, who have since withdrawn the appeal and promised to review procedures on witness appeals.

The force issued the black and white images after several items went missing at a Boots in Exmouth, Devon, on June 29.

Officers were said to be hunting a "white male, with a shave head and white t-shirt" and a "white female with long black hair, white top with large number on chest, black short skirt."

The photos were accompanied by a description of the pair and details of how they stashed stolen goods in their son's pushchair

The two suspects were alleged to have walked inside then "concealed items in a push chair" before leaving "without making payment."

Police went on to say the same pair were believed to be behind a spate of similar thefts at Boots stores across Devon.

The appeal ended with the warning: "Members of the public should not approach anyone who they believe to be displayed in the images."

Charlotte said she and carpet fitter husband James, 30, are now worried about leaving their home in Exeter, Devon, in case they suffer abuse.

She said: "It was horrific, we were so shocked. It's broken us both, we're so upset. We both work really hard for our money and would never steal anything.

"The photo is really clear and we are recognisable in it. And for my son to be pictured too is just awful.

"I didn't know what to do. I felt like I couldn't leave the house. It's caused us so much stress - I haven't slept much or eaten properly.

"It's disgusting how this mistake could have happened to innocent people. Seeing everything which was written about me, including that I was a bad mum, has been so upsetting."

Devon and Cornwall Police promised to review their "Caught on Camera" scheme to prevent a similar mistake.

Original report here




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