Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Police offer apology to Anichebe

Victor Anichebe
Victor Anichebe said in a statement he was embarrassed and humiliated

Cheshire Police have apologised to Premier League striker Victor Anichebe after officers challenged him as he looked in a jeweller's shop window.

The Everton player was window-shopping with a friend in Knutsford, Cheshire, when officers confronted the pair, eventually handcuffing his friend.

Police said they were acting after a spate of robberies but admitted it was a "less than proportionate reaction".

Mr Anichebe, 20, said the incident was "embarrassing and totally humiliating".

He said in a statement: "Whilst I do fully understand Cheshire Police's desire to tackle the problem of robberies on jewellery shops in the Knutsford area, I remain deeply upset and very angry about the treatment which was meted out to myself and a friend yesterday [Wednesday].

I asked the officers if they would have taken the action they did had I been white rather than black
Victor Anichebe

"It was not only totally ridiculous but also highly embarrassing and totally humiliating.

"Simply because we stood our ground and insisted that we had done absolutely nothing wrong, they decided to place my friend in handcuffs.

"I am currently having to use crutches to walk as I recently underwent surgery on a knee injury and - astonishingly - one of the officers even tried to grab the crutches in order to prevent me from 'escaping'."

He added: "After what seemed like an eternity the police officers seemed to realise that they had made a mistake, acknowledging that I was a footballer with a Premiership club and not someone who was preparing to commit a crime.

"At the time, I asked the officers if they would have taken the action they did had I been white rather than black."

'Acting suspiciously'

A police spokesman said: "It is only right and proper that the police act expeditiously in protecting vulnerable premises such as jewellery shops.

"We seek in all cases to ask for co-operation from the public in respect of not only reporting suspicious activity in or around such areas, but also their co-operation if an officer feels it is necessary and appropriate to make inquiries into such matters."

He added: "Having now reviewed in detail what occurred between the officers and the two men whom they believed to have been acting suspiciously, it is now apparent that, while the situation was heated, the actions of the police officer in applying handcuffs to one of the men was less than a proportionate reaction to the requirements of the situation.

"The officer has been advised regarding this, and an offer of apology extended to the two men."

Responding to Mr Anichebe's comments about race, the police spokesman added: "The robust response to this incident was influenced by a history of violent robberies that have recently occurred at jewellery shops across Cheshire and was most certainly not related to race.

"Cheshire Police has publically apologised to Mr Anichebe and his friend about the treatment they received from officers involved, and we will be writing to Mr Anichebe's Football Club reiterating this apology.

"We can confirm we will be pleased to personally meet with Mr Anichebe to resolve any further concerns he may have."

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