Tuesday, May 31, 2016

British cops are forced to issue grovelling apology to two innocent 13-year-old girls after they wrongly named them as prime suspects in make-up theft 

Police have been forced to issue a grovelling apology to two innocent 13-year-old girls after wrongly naming them as prime suspects in a £400 make-up theft.

Francesca Galelli and Molly Curtis burst into tears when their faces were plastered across local news websites, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter, in connection with the offence.

Officers had released CCTV images of the pair as part of an appeal for information following a £459 theft from Superdrug in Ely, Cambridgeshire, on April 4.

But it turned out neither had anything to do with the theft and both have now received an apology from police, who admitted they had made 'an honest mistake that had deeply unfortunate circumstances'.

Molly and Francesca had been out 'shopping for a few bits' at around 3.15pm at the time of the theft.

Francesca's sister, Claudia, 21, said her younger sibling came home crying after friends at Soham Village College showed her the news stories which appeared online with her picture.

She said: 'I saw the article and I thought "oh that looks like my sister" but I thought she would never do anything like that so I just scrolled past it. But I later got a phone call and learned friends at school had shown her the story.

'It was really horrible for her. She is so young, she is such a good person who never does anything wrong. She is the perfect student, this was really upsetting for her.

'When I spoke to her about it she said, "I don't know what to do". I told her to just tell people the truth - she did not do it.

'The worst thing for her was everybody looking at her at school and making comments but she is a strong person and held her head up high.'

Speaking about the incident, Francesca, who lives in Ely, said: 'I was getting some shopping and then I went round my friend's house.

'I got a message on Instagram from someone asking "is this you?" and then I went on Facebook and it was all over there, too.'

Molly was also left embarrassed by the situation.  She said: 'I was at home and I got a message on social media saying "this looks like you - is it you?"

'I asked them to take it down, because I didn't want a bad reputation for nothing.'

The police alert, released shortly after the thefts, was issued with CCTV images of Francesca and Molly. It read: "Officers have released CCTV images of four women they would like to speak to in connection with the theft of make-up.

'On April 4, £459 worth of make-up was stolen from Superdrug in Market Place, Ely at about 3:15pm.

'It is believed the women entered the store and placed various coloured lipsticks in a bag before making off.

Speaking on behalf of the East Cambridgeshire policing district, Sergeant Phil Priestley said: 'We made an honest mistake that had deeply unfortunate circumstances.

'We always want to be clear and transparent if we get things wrong, and we definitely want to ensure that people know that Francesca and Molly are good people and that this wasn't their fault.'

The error has also led to police revising district CCTV policies to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

By way of an apology the police have invited Francesca and Molly to sit on a new Youth Consultation Panel designed to improve and promote the relationship that exists between local police and young people aged 12 to 16.

The force involved, Cambridgeshire Police, is the same one that announced earlier this month it was to hand out free pants to teenagers in the hope of stopping them from nicking expensive toiletries.

The taxpayer funded initiative is being rolled out in Cambridgeshire after officers linked a spike in the theft of hygiene products to uncleanliness amongst young adults.

Investigating officers claim to have found struggling youngsters regularly trying to steal toiletries and sanitary items and pants after being taunted by their peers for being dirty.

Original report here

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