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Black civil servant accused of car theft while jogging

Published
image copyrightAndrea Charles Fidelis
image captionAndrea Charles Fidelis said police presumed she was guilty because of her race
Police have apologised to a black civil servant who was accused of being a car thief while jogging near her home.
Dr Andrea Charles Fidelis, who works for the Ministry of Justice, said she was racially profiled and "dehumanised" by an officer in Swanley, Kent.
She was "threatened with arrest" after a man claimed to have seen her leaving his driveway on 29 March, she said.
Kent Police said claims the officer had been "biased and discriminatory" were not upheld by an investigation.
But the force said it had apologised to Dr Charles Fidelis "for the way the officer had spoken to her".
Dr Charles Fidelis, 41, said she had sought sanctuary in a railway station after being followed while jogging by a man who mistakenly believed she had attempted to steal his car.
When police arrived, an officer presumed she was guilty without asking any questions and did not believe her account that she was in fear of being attacked by the man, she said.
"I was dismissed by him as not having the capacity to have natural human feelings," she added.

'Criminals first'

The findings of Kent Police's inquiry, shared with Dr Charles Fidelis, said there was no evidence of "discrimination or incivility" and the officer had not breached the force's policy or the law.
A report said the information available to the officer at the time was "sufficient to identify Dr Charles Fidelis as a suspect".
She said the force had failed to take account of the "engrained" racial bias of the officer, who had been "unable to empathise or even see me as a potential victim".
"Throughout this whole saga I have not been treated equally to my white accuser," she wrote in a blog.
"The embodiment of black people being seen first as criminals, rather than victims has played out at every stage from start to finish."
The experience left her feeling "brutalised" and "frightened to go out", she said.
The mother of three, who sits on the board of a violence reduction charity, said she had been aware of a "deeply held resentment in the black community towards policing", but had previously had a "really positive experience with the police".
However, her treatment had provided a "painful insight into how it plays out", she said.
Kent Police said it "takes all complaints relating to racial discrimination seriously".
It said Dr Charles Fidelis had "appealed against the outcome of the complaint and this is now in the hands of the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) to allow the matter to be considered independently".
The IOPC said it was assessing the appeal.

Related Topics

  • Racism
  • Swanley
  • Kent Police
  • Policing