Disabled man speaks out on being unfairly stopped, handcuffed and searched: ­‘I was stopped for way I walk’

BY KATE DENNETT
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

A writer with physical impairments claims he was handcuffed by police in a stop and search simply for the way he walks.

Charlie Hale, known also as Charlie Fox, has suffered from cerebral palsy, dyspraxia and a congenital left-sided weakness since he was born.

Mr Hale, pictured, was stopped and handcuffed by police officers in Southampton Way, Peckham, on July 7 as they suspected him to be carrying drugs.

He was asked to explain his medical history to convince officers of his innocence, and described the incident as degrading’ and ‘dehumanising.

The Met said it believes officers acted correctly but there will still be an investigation.

Mr Hale said: “My walk is slightly tilted and erratic so I might get aggravation from people on the street.

The police felt similar to that – there was an aggression to it. I basically felt like I was being mugged by these officers – they took my wallet and my stuff.”

He was not charged by officers but felt violated that he had to share personal information to prove his innocence.

Mr Hale said: “They didn’t apologise, there wasn’t even a flicker of an apology. They just told me to enjoy my day and offered me a lift. I am not even going to say that I am necessarily surprised.

“To anybody who might say I wasn’t charged with anything, try to imagine that you have to explain some really important medical information while handcuffed. Then imagine that is the reason why you are in handcuffs.”

Mr Hale felt that officers showed ignorance of neurological and physical impairments and lacked empathy and sensitivity.

He said: “What am I supposed to do? Carry my medical history around with me? It would have been
easily solved with a few questions but they treated my body like a crime.

“The police are there to serve the community and that is the message that they are giving to it

“The second officer said to me ‘so this is a condition you’ve had since you are born, then?’ He said it
without sensitivity and indifference – there was a total absence of empathy or sensitivity that the situation might be difficult for me.

“It is really shocking and shameful that they haven’t even offered an apology even three weeks after and all the publicity.

“I want to be clear that it cannot be swept aside – I am not just saying that for myself but for other
people also.”

Mr Hale has received masses of support on Twitter since sharing his story with followers.

He said: I have received a lot of support on social media. I am hesitant to say it has been a positive reaction as this shouldn’t have even happened in the first place.”

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced his desires to increase stop and search in the run up to conservative elections.

Mr Hale said: “The grounds for stop and search are so dubious – it is a really scary and horrific thought.

The fact that Boris Johnson wants to expand on that – it is no coincidence that it will affect the minorities – it is dark and cruel.”

The Met said it would continue to investigate the complaint and share their evidence with Mr Hale.

Borough Commander Simon Messinger said: “The gentleman in question made the officers aware that he had a disability affecting his movement.

“No drugs were found and he was then free to go on his way.

“The body worn video footage of the interaction is currently being reviewed by the borough’s Professional Standards Unit and we will communicate our findings with the individual.

“Body Worn Video protects the public and allows us to investigate complaints efficiently.

“The camera acts as an independent witness to police actions and allows for greater transparency.”

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