A volunteer charity collector today spoke of his astonishment after he was marched off a bus by police – after being accused of theft.
Furious Anthony Thorpe, 53, who helps raise thousands of pounds a year to help cancer sufferers, had been picking up collection tins from shops in Blackpool when he was stopped and searched by police investigating reports of “suspicious” activity.
I will continue collecting because I love it so much and lost my grandparents to cancer
Police pulled in front of the Number 14 bus in a marked car before three officers boarded the bus, escorted him from the top deck and “patted” him down in public. Mr Thorpe, who was wearing his official Marie Curie ID badge, said the whole ordeal was “embarrassing”.
He said: “It was so over the top. I had my ID badge on me – why didn’t they just leave it at that?
“I just know what everyone was thinking seeing three police officers hauling a guy from the top deck.
“I have never been so embarrassed.”
Mr Thorpe had been picking up collection tins from shops in the Clifton Road area before catching the bus into the town centre, where he lives.
Mr Thorpe said his ordeal , on April 28, started because somebody saw him and assumed he was stealing –rather than helping a needy charity.
He added: “Two police cars stopped the bus on Central Drive and three police officers got on.
“They asked if they could look in my bag.
“I showed them my ID badge but one of them said ‘you can fake ID badges’.
“I was patted down and searched in the streets.
“What the police did was an over-reaction, to do that after I have showed them my badge.
“I said ‘you have just humiliated me in the street’.
“I can see why so many people are put off charity collecting.”
Mr Thorpe was released with no further action after police accepted he was a genuine collector.
Despite considering packing in his charity collection work, he said it would not be fair to let the negative experiences stop important fund-raising work.
He said he and others had been verbally abused while out collecting.
“About 40 per cent of people look right through you,” he added.
“When you see a charity collector in the street, spare a thought that one day, God forbid, you or your family may need them.
“I will continue collecting because I love it so much and I lost my grandparents to cancer. For me and other not to do it would deny the nurses the chance to do the good work they do.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We were called at around 3.50pm on April 28 to a report of suspicious circumstances.
“We stopped a man who turned out to be a genuine collector.”
Nobody from Marie Curie was available for comment.