East Cambs Police admit ‘we made a mistake’ after teenagers wrongly linked to theft from Ely store

Ely Police. Left: Molly Curtis and Francesca Galelli

Ely Police. Left: Molly Curtis and Francesca Galelli - Credit: Archant

Two Ely teenagers have received an apology from police after CCTV images of them were circulated in connection to a theft in a local store – even though they were nothing to do with it.

Ely Police. Sgt Phil Priestley,

Ely Police. Sgt Phil Priestley, - Credit: Archant

Francesca Galelli and Molly Curtis, both 13, were shopping in Superdrug in the city on April 4, and returned home to find images of them from the store’s CCTV being shared on the internet.

East Cambridgeshire Police circulated four images – including two of Francesca and Molly – in an attempt to track down those responsible for the theft of some make-up on the same day.

It was a case of wrong place, wrong time for the teenagers, as they were innocently shopping at the time and both were left upset after being linked to a crime they were nothing to do with.

Francesca said: “I was getting some shopping and then I went round my friend’s house.

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“I got a message on Instagram from someone asking ‘is this you?’ and then I went on Facebook and it was all over there, too.”

Molly was also left embarrassed by the situation. She said: “I was at home and I got a message on social media saying ‘this looks like you – is it you?’

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“I asked them to take it down, because I didn’t want a bad reputation for nothing.”

Since then, the girls have received a formal apology from East Cambs Police, and have been asked to spearhead a youth forum, which is aiming to improve the relationship between teenagers and police in the area.

Speaking on behalf of East Cambs Police, Sergeant Phil Priestley said: “We made an honest mistake that had deeply unfortunate circumstances.

“We always want to be clear and transparent if we get things wrong, and we definitely want to ensure that people know that Francesca and Molly are good people and this isn’t their fault.

“While we have moderated our CCTV policies to ensure such mistakes will be avoided in future, we want to go the extra mile and take the opportunity to set up a Youth Consultation forum that will also help us understand the needs and priorities of our younger people.”

Francesca and Molly have accepted the opportunity to get involved with the forum, which is to be launched in July.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Francesca. “Hopefully it will allow the police to see things from a teenager’s perspective and we can use what happened to us to move forward.”

If you would like to get involved in the youth consultation forum, visit the Policing East Cambridgeshire Facebook page and send a message for the attention of Sgt Phil Priestley.

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