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New Labour policing (Tough on crime and the causes of crime): Philip Barnes arrested over grit.

A kind-hearted teenager was interrogated for two hours and threatened with a criminal record by police after he attempted to help elderly residents left stranded by icy weather.

Philip Barnes, 17, went to the aid of the residents on an estate in Kendal, Cumbria, who were unable to leave their homes because the footpaths outside had not been gritted.

Determined to accomplish his act of kindness, the teenager and his friends spent hours driving around town looking for grit for the paths around the estate in Cedar Grove.

He finally found some at a railway station and went ahead with the gritting.

However, two days later British Transport Police arrived at his home and accused the youngster of theft of the grit.

'It's been awful. I was only trying to help', Philip said.

'People in Cedar Grove could not leave their homes and cars were spinning all over the place.

'I went to the council depot and was told that if I could find one of the yellow bins with some grit in, to help myself. I found a bin at the station - took a bucketful and spread it.

'Two days later I was contacted by the police who said they had CCTV of me stealing the grit and said I was being considered for prosecution. I could not believe it.

Philip added: 'They came to my house and questioned me for two hours.

'I have never been in trouble before and tried to explain I was helping the older people get out of their homes.

'The officer said that if they did not take me to court I might still get an official caution.I have been worrying ever since.'

Andrea Loudon, a resident of Cedar Grove said: 'We should be thanking Philip and his mates not persecuting them.

'They are young lads and they did a grand job. One of my neighbours uses a wheelchair and could not get out until the lads gritted.'

A spokesman for British Transport Police said: 'We have investigated this but it appears the 17-year-old and his friends who took the grit did not realise they were committing an offence.

**Remember tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. 

Guess it must have been a quiet day at the station that day, guess maybe there were not any outstanding rapists, burglars and other assorted ne'er-do-wells that needed catching by the boys an gals in blue.

One can but assume that the local plod must have had a 100% clearup rate of all crime to find themselves with so much time on their hands that they figure some grit going walkabout needs investigating.

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