Pensioner arrested for feeding pigeons

Telegraph
03.05.2011

A mother and daughter are planning to sue the police after they were locked up for seven hours for feeding pigeons.

Neighbours had complained that the birds were blighting their lives, as hundreds flocked to feed from Monica and Janet McIntosh’s garden in High Harrington, Cumbria.

The residents claimed they were unable to go outside and that the sky would become black as the pigeons descended.

They were also concerned that the birds might have attracted rats to the area and so reported the couple to the police.

The McIntoshes were arrested on suspicion of a public nuisance offence, taken to Workington police station and locked up.

Police seized house keys, bank statements and cheque books.

The pair were placed on bail while the Crown Prosecution Service conducted an investigation and four lawyers were brought in to look at the case.

Last month, they were told there was no case to answer and the investigation was handed to Allerdale Council’s environmental health team.

The council has also said it can take no action.

Mrs McIntosh, 76, said she and her daughter, 46, felt let down by the way police had handled their neighbours’ complaints.

Officers had telephoned the pair to inform them of the complaints and said they would visit to talk to them about it.

They were shocked, however, when a police car and a police van turned up and four officers knocked on the door then arrested them inside their home.

Mrs McIntosh said that after they were arrested, an officer demanded keys to their house, which was searched while they were put into the van and taken to Workington police station.

There they were put in separate rooms, interviewed and locked in separate cells.

After being bailed they faced a wait to find out whether they would face charges, until they were told of the CPS decision.

Mrs McIntosh said: “This is absolutely ludicrous.

“It’s been extremely traumatic and the fact that they have searched through our personal belongings has left us feeling violated.

“We just feel totally let down.”

The pair contacted Forbes Solicitors in Preston in the days after their arrest and solicitor David Mayor, who is handling their case, said: “The time taken to investigate, interview and potentially prosecute these two over the overfeeding of birds is the biggest waste of police time and money when other people could have been contacted to sort out the problem.

“I’m surprised that the police have been involved at all.”

The matter could have been resolved by officers talking to the pair, he said.

Forbes sent notice to Cumbria Constabulary in February that the mother and daughter intended to sue and the constabulary has until June 1 to accept liability or present a case defending the officers’ actions.

If the police accept liability, an out of court damages settlement could be reached, but Mr Mayor said that if they denied liability or a suitable settlement could not be agreed, the matter would go to court.

Full article

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