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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Carlisle takeaway boss considers suing after being mistaken for thief

A takeaway boss has told how he was arrested at work and kept in a police cell for nearly four hours after being mistaken for a thief.

Nicholas Atkinson photo
Nicholas Atkinson

Nicholas Atkinson, 30, became a suspect after somebody rang the police because he resembled a man caught on CCTV taking a bag stuffed with presents from a van parked in Warwick Road, Carlisle, in January.

Despite having an alibi, officers took him from his city centre workplace and then held him in a cell at Durranhill police HQ for more than three hours before interviewing him, said Mr Atkinson, of Adelaide Street, Carlisle.

He says he was subjected to “rude and insulting” comments during the police interview that followed.

The father-of-two, who was then released without charge, has formally complained and is considering suing. The force, which confirmed that Mr Atkinson is no longer a suspect, said it is now investigating his complaint.

“I was working in the shop I manage at 11am on Tuesday when the officers arrived and I assumed that it was something to do with a drunk person in the shop the night before,” said Mr Atkinson, who works in the London Road area. “I had no idea that they were going to arrest me.”

When that happened, Mr Atkinson was forced to close the shop because the only other person working there was a junior colleague.

“They took me to Durranhill police HQ and put me in a cell, and didn’t interview me until 3pm,” he said. “I felt they were extremely rude.

“I was told that I was uneducated and that’s why I was working at the takeaway. I pointed out that I was the manager but the officer told me I’d probably be sacked when my boss found out I had been arrested for theft.

“I’ve requested the tape of the interview but they have told me I am not entitled to have it because I was not charged.

“I found out that my home was searched while my 18-month-old daughter was at home with her nanna.

“She shouldn’t have had to see that happen.

“I believe that the police massively over reacted to a call saying that the picture looked like me. I feel I was treated as though I was guilty until proven innocent.

“I want people to know what happened because the whole thing was very embarrassing. I feel that the way I was treated was outrageous.”

Mr Atkinson, who was at home with his girlfriend when the crime under investigation was committed, said he was involved in minor trouble as a young man while under great stress but he said he would not do what he was accused of. “It was a terrible thing to do,” he added.

A spokesman for Cumbria police said that its officers have a duty to follow up all leads in any investigation, and this included investigating any information received.

He said: “The Constabulary expects the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and conduct from all police officers at all times.

“We take any allegations of inappropriate behaviour from any of our officers very seriously to assure our communities.

“I can reassure communities that we investigate any reports thoroughly and would encourage anyone with any concerns to contact Cumbria police on 101 and ask the speak to the Professional Standards Department.”

Cumbria police issued an appeal last month for information about a man whose image was captured by a CCTV camera as he stole from the van on January 17.

It contained goods such as aftershave and clothing, valued at £150. Anybody who can help the police should call them on 101.

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