Ministry of Justice employee accused of car theft while jogging

Yohannes Lowe
·2-min read
Dr Andrea Charles Fidelis - UNPIXS (Europe)/Universal News And Sport (Scotland)
Dr Andrea Charles Fidelis - UNPIXS (Europe)/Universal News And Sport (Scotland)

Police have apologised to a black Ministry of Justice employee who was accused of being a car thief while jogging near her home.

Dr Andrea Charles Fidelis, 41, believes she was “dehumanised” and allegedly racially profiled by an officer in Swanley, Kent in late March.

She said the officer “threatened” to arrest her after a man claimed to have seen her leaving his driveway in an attempt to steal his vehicle, and began following her.

Dr Fidelis, who had gone into a railway station for fear of being attacked, said the police assumed she was guilty when they arrived and did not believe her version of events.

“I was dismissed by him as not having the capacity to have natural human feelings,” she recalled.

Kent Police have since apologised “for the way the officer had spoken to her”, but said claims the officer had been “discriminatory” were not upheld by an investigation.

The findings concluded the officer had not breached the force's policy or the law, as a report said the information available at the time was “sufficient to identify Dr Charles Fidelis as a suspect”.

But the civil servant, who sits on the board of a violence reduction charity, said the force had not factored in the “ingrained” racial bias of the officer.

“Throughout this whole saga I have not been treated equally to my white accuser,” she wrote in a blog post.

“The embodiment of black people being seen first as criminals, rather than victims has played out at every stage from start to finish.”  

Dr Fidelis, a mother-of-three, has said she has been left “brutalised” by the experience and is now “frightened to go out”.

Kent Police said it “takes all complaints relating to racial discrimination seriously”, adding that Dr 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, the police watchdog, confirmed that it was assessing the appeal.