Police raided a woman’s home and took her daily cancer medication as “evidence” – because her son was suspected of graffitiing a toilet in Asda.
Samantha Trist was left without the vital drugs for eight days, and has only been able to start taking them again after getting a fresh prescription. Humberside Police have refused to give her original pills back.
Officers arrested her son, who is also her primary carer, on 20 June outside their house in Grimsby. They then proceeded to ransack the property, said Samantha, upending boxes of personal possessions and seizing items including her Letrozole tablets. Samantha had been told to take the medication daily after her breast cancer surgery.
Her son denies the allegation of criminal damage, and was released without charge after being held by police for several hours.
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Samantha called the raid “intrusive and disproportionate”. “I felt completely defenceless,” she said.
She twice went to Birchin Way police station to plead for the return of the drugs, she added, but they still haven’t been given back – even though other items such as her mobile phone were eventually handed over.
“Thinking about the medical implications of [not having the medication] added even more anxiety during a stressful time,” she said. “I keep the tablets in a place where I could access them with a blindfold on – there was no reason to take them.”
After being diagnosed with cancer in February 2021, Samantha began to organise her possessions into boxes to take her mind off of her illness and alleviate feelings of anxiety.
“When they ransacked my house, everything was turned upside down – all my hard work went to waste,” she said. “They even looked through boxes of sanitary products.”
Samantha says the duty solicitor at the police station informed her that her son had been arrested on suspicion of drawing graffiti in the toilets of their local Asda.
According to Section 32 of the Police and Criminal Act, police have permission to search premises if the value of the alleged criminal damage is over £5,000.
“It just seems so excessive,” she said. “If one police officer had searched the property, I don’t think it would have made me feel as helpless. The number of the police officers made it feel like it was a drugs raid.”
A week after searching her house, a list of evidence seized was posted through Samantha’s door – with no letterhead on the list, or any other indication that it was from Humberside Police.
Humberside Police confirmed they attended Samantha’s home in Grimsby on the day in question and that “a number of items were seized”.
A spokesperson did not respond to allegations that cancer medication had been among the items taken, or that police subsequently refused to give it back.
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