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Warm clothes taken from homeless in Chatham High Street

By Amy Nickalls

Police have been criticised after confiscating warm clothing from a homeless man.

A nurse who lives in Medway had seen the rough sleeper in Chatham High Street in December.

With the temperature just four degrees, she went to Primark to buy a thermal hat, scarf, four pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks.

A homeless person sleeping in a shop doorway. Stock image
A homeless person sleeping in a shop doorway. Stock image

The good samaritan, who did not want to be named, told our sister paper the Medway Messenger: “He wasn’t wearing any winter clothing and was very grateful when I gave it to him.

“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 found the officer through the public services stand in the High Street and questioned him on the incident.

She said: “He 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.

Police have been criticised
Police have been criticised

"He just reiterated he was a known shoplifter.

“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.”

The force has defended its actions and reviewed the officer's body camera footage.

Police spokesman Vicki Foster said: "We are aware of a member of the public’s concern regarding items of clothing purchased for a man in Chatham High Street.

"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."

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