Morrisons woman escorted after refuse police falsely accuse her of dropping a cigarette

Non-smoker Angela Bellas claims she was made to feel like a criminal by wardens who escorted her from Morrisons in Wincheap, Canterbury and back to the car park

Angela was shocked when told to leave the store
Angela was shocked when told to leave the store

A woman said she was marched out of a supermarket in the middle of the store by “intimidating” garbage cops who falsely accused her of throwing a cigarette butt.

Non-smoker Angela Bellas claims she was made to feel like a criminal by wardens who guided her from Morrisons in Wincheap, Canterbury.

She claims she felt compelled to take a “walk of shame” back to the parking lot and says she was embarrassed.

Private firm National Enforcement Solutions (NES) told Kent Online that it reviewed body-worn camera footage of the incident and says its officers handled the incident “professionally”.

Ms Bellas, 46, said she stopped by Canterbury Academy on her way to work last Wednesday to get a loaf of bread for the special needs students.

When she heard people calling her, she turned to see a woman dressed in black and a man in a polo shirt.







Angela was in the Morrisons shop in Canterbury
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She recalled, “I said, ‘What, me?’ and they said, “Yes, can you please come with me?”

“I said, ‘Where to?’ and they said, ‘Can you come with us?’”

Ms Bellas says she would have investigated further with hindsight but “just panicked” at the moment.

“It was very surreal,” she said. “I didn’t know who they were. At first I thought they were cops and thought, ‘What have I done?’

“They walked out and kept turning to make sure I was with them.

“I said, ‘Can you tell me why you’re taking me outside?’ and they said, “When we’re out, we’ll tell you.”

“It was like being arrested. It was really, really humbling.”

“Outside, they said, ‘Now I want to talk to you about the cigarette you just threw out the car window’.”

Shocked, Mrs. Bellas told them she doesn’t smoke.

The officers – who later found out were employed by NES – pointed to a nearby red car and asked if it was theirs.

“I said, ‘Yes, that’s my car, but I don’t smoke,'” Ms. Bellas recalled.

“There were groups of kids from Canterbury Academy standing around and watching me. They were all amazed.

“It was like being arrested. It was really, really humbling.”

Ms Bellas continued to protest, offering officers a look around her car and demanding they smell it to prove she hadn’t smoked.

The guards eventually admitted they had made a mistake but reportedly offered no apologies.

Ms Bellas now hopes prison staff will be better trained in “how to approach members of the public in a way that is non-frightening and non-confrontational”.

“It was like walking in shame until I came outside and then they accused me of something I hadn’t done. It was absolutely bizarre, and there was no apology.

“It was really, really intimidating, very embarrassing and really upsetting. I was scared though [imagine] if it had happened to someone who is vulnerable.”

NES is a private company mandated by Canterbury City Council (CCC) to curb litter in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.

As the contract began on May 3, wardens can hand out fines of up to £150 to those committing offenses such as littering and dog poo.

The NES receives 70% of all revenue it generates from fines, with the remaining 30% going to the city government.

In a joint statement, NES and CCC said: “Upon review of the officers’ body-worn camera, the officer’s interaction was professional and not ‘degrading, aggressive and disrespectful.’

“The officer approached the member of the public and asked them to come outside; this should avoid embarrassment.

“After the officer questioned the member of the public about a possible crime, the officer was satisfied with the response and no fine was issued.

“NES apologizes if at any time any member of the public felt upset.

“This is not what we set out to achieve and we will work with all officials on this contract to minimize the risk of a repeat incident.”

“As part of the contract, NES is expected to engage with the public and not just individuals who commit crime. NES sets a high standard as this particular role is often heavily criticized.”

They said law enforcement officers are allowed to operate in Morrisons “since a supermarket is a public place”.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-escorted-morrisons-litter-police-27242231 Morrisons woman escorted after refuse police falsely accuse her of dropping a cigarette

Fry Electronics Team

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