Black civil servant accused of trying to steal car while jogging

Chris Baynes
·2-min read

Police have apologised to a black civil servant who was accused of being a car thief and “threatened with arrest” while jogging near her home.

Andrea Charles Fidelis, who works for the Ministry of Justice, said she felt “humiliated and broken” after being confronted by an officer in Swanley, Kent.

She believes she was racially profiled by police after a man claimed to have seen her on his driveway.

Dr Charles Fidelis, 41, sought refuge in a train station to escape the man, who wrongly accused her of trying to steal his car while she was out for a run on 29 March.

When police arrived, the officer told station staff that “she tried to steal a car” and “fitted the description”.

“I felt really very humiliated and broken at that point,” Dr Charles Fidelis told BBC News.

She added the officer rejected claims Dr Charles Fidelis was afraid of the man who followed her, telling her: “Why wouldn’t he chase you and pursue you? He had every right to do so.”

She said the officer threatened her with arrest but “the direction changed” in the conversation when she told him she worked for the MoJ.

Kent Police said claims the officer had been “biased and discriminatory” were not upheld by its internal investigation, but the force apologised to Dr Charles Fidelis “for the way the officer had spoken to her”.

The findings of the force’s internal inquiry, shared with Dr Charles Fidelis, said there was no evidence of “discrimination or incivility” and the information available to the officer at the time was enough to identify her as a suspect.

Ms Charles Fidelis, who is also head of communications for the Violent Crime Prevention Board, said the force had not addressed her concerns about “racially biased policing”.

She added: “It’s an opportunity for reflection and not a kind of defensive shutdown in terms of the investigation, where they said the service provided was acceptable.

“If this can happen to me, what about young black men seeking fair treatment and justice?”

Dr Charles Fidelis has appealed against the outcome of the complaint, which has now been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct for an independent investigation.

Last month the police watchdog announced a review into whether police officers across England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minorities. It will also look to establish whether there are “systemic issues which should be addressed”.

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