NEIL Hudgell Solicitors have written to the Chief Constable of Humberside Police on behalf of a woman who was arrested on suspicion of burglary – saying their treatment of her was ‘totally unreasonable and ‘appears unlawful’.
Officers told the 55-year-old mum-of-three she was under arrest because her former home had been burgled with no sign of forced entry, and because she only handed over one set of keys when she exchanged her home.
Despite officers failing to find any stolen possessions, they still bailed the woman over a weekend under the condition she report to Beverley Police station on the Monday morning
However, the woman was then told she had no case to answer by a senior detective.
The incident happened in December when two Humberside Police officers called at the woman’s home.
On the notice of arrest handed to her, an officer wrote “she previously resided at the premises and only exchanged one key. No forced entry” as the grounds for arrest.
Andrew Petherbridge, of Neil Hudgell Solicitors, is an expert in cases of wrongful arrest and unlawful detention. He believes officers acted ‘totally unreasonably’ and carried out what appears to have been an ‘unlawful arrest’.
“This law-abiding citizen has no convictions at all, yet was placed under arrest in her own home through what appears to be the most tenuous of links – that being that she was the previous council tenant to live at that home,” said Mr Petherbridge.
“By that logic, the first suspect in every case of burglary would be the former home owner or tenant, as everybody could have still have a set of keys or copy a set.
“In view of the fact her arrest appears to have been unlawful, it would follow that so was the search of this lady’s home.
“Also, if having carried out a search of the property, the officers deemed it necessary to interview her, then an appointment could have been made for her to attend the police station voluntarily. Instead she was placed on bail and had to cope with further worry over the weekend, on top of what she had been subjected to by officers searching her home on what certainly appears to have been a fishing expedition. That is totally unreasonable.
“We understand there is an internal police investigation into this matter now, and that is something we welcome, and await the conclusion of with interest.”
The woman, who had taken part in a home exchange with another Beverley-based family through East Riding Council last summer, and has a completely clean criminal record, said: “I cannot get over what happened to me.
“When I got a knock on the door and saw two police officers standing there I started to fear the worst, and thought that perhaps they were bringing bad news about a relative.
“When I opened the door they came in and said ‘we are arresting you on suspicion of burglary’, warning me that anything I said could be used as evidence.
“I was completely shook up and in shock. They didn’t even say what they were looking for. One officer went upstairs and the other started rifling through my possessions downstairs. They must have been in my home an hour fishing around.
“I had a bag of Christmas presents for my daughter and the male officer pointed to his colleague and nodded towards it, as if to say ‘we’ve got it’.
“I explained that they were presents for my daughter, a DVD player, some toiletries and bits of costume jewellery, but they searched those too. I had saved up all year to buy them bit by bit, as I do every year to avoid having a lot of expense at Christmas.
“When they didn’t get what they were looking for they bailed me until the Monday morning and told me to report to Beverley Police station for interview. I couldn’t quite believe it and was shaken up badly.”
Looking back at the incident, the woman, who no longer works due to battling depression and anxiety, says the matter still upsets her.
“It is not right that a stain can be placed upon your character so easily,” she said.
“I’d not been near my former home for months. In the weeks after we exchanged I popped back a few times to post some letters which had come to my new house, and they did the same for me. That’s stopped in time though.
“When I was bailed I worried all weekend, but when I got there on the Monday morning I saw a senior detective and he sent me home after about 20 minutes. He said he knew that I was of good character and that I hadn’t done it.
“He claimed they’d had to do what they had done as it had been a burglary with no sign of forced entry and because I only handed over one set of keys when we exchanged, but I only ever had one set with a front and back door key, and one for the shed.
“Had they come and asked to search the property I would have been fine, but they didn’t. They just arrested me and started rifling through my stuff, treating me like a professional thief. Then they placed me on bail.
“I don’t believe the police should be able to act in this way. It’s appalling really.”