Police quiz man in Peckham after protest sparked as woman claims she was 'strangled' after being accused of shoplifting

13 September 2023, 12:25

The Peckham protest
The Peckham protest. Picture: LBC/Instagram

By Kit Heren

Police have questioned a man after a huge protest broke out in south London, in response to an altercation between a woman who claimed she was strangled by a shopkeeper who in turn accused her of trying to steal from his store.

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Hundreds of people showed up for the protest on Tuesday afternoon, with placards including "Keep your hands off black women", "Our investment ends here" and "Stop the violence against women".

The clip, which only showed the Peckham Hair and Cosmetics shopkeeper Sohail Sindho wrestling the woman forcefully towards the exit while she struck at him with a shopping basket, was viewed thousands of times online.

In the video, the unnamed woman says: "Get off me, he's trying to strangle me. Get the f*** off me.

"Call the police! Call the police!... This man just strangled me!"

Many people accused the shopkeeper of racism. Others online praised him for fighting back against the alleged shoplifting. There were some claims on social media that the woman had been trying to return some items to the shop for a refund.

Sindho denied strangling the woman. He told Antoine Allen, a reporter: "Choking means like… it looks like I'm choking her. It's not choking - at the moment one hand was at the back. I was like, detaining her."

The woman, 31, was arrested on suspicion of assault and shoplifting, and bailed pending further investigation.

Police interviewed a 45-year-old man under caution on Wednesday. This is not the same as being arrested.

Detective Chief Superintendent Seb Adjei-Addoh, local policing commander for Southwark, said: "I would like to thank local people for their patience as we work to establish the full circumstances around the allegations made.

"We continue to examine various clips of footage that depict small sections of the wider incident and are working to establish what offences were committed and by whom.

"My officers will be patrolling Rye Lane today to provide reassurance to the community – I know that this incident will cause concern and I urge anyone who is worried to speak with their local policing team or with officers on patrol."

Anyone who witnessed the incident but haven’t yet spoken to police please call 101 quoting CAD 3943/11Sep.

Local community leader Sayce Holmes-Lewis, a founder of an anti-knife crime group, helped organise the protest outside the Rye Lane shop on Tuesday afternoon. The shop was shuttered and the road was closed temporarily.

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Man chokes woman during confrontation in Peckham

"What I have to be very clear on is that no one needs to do anything in terms of violent behaviour or anything like that, we turn up here and... we hit them in the pocket," he said.

"That's the only language they understand. I don't need anyone incriminating themselves or doing anything silly."

The Peckham protest
The Peckham protest. Picture: LBC

Representatives from the Forever Family Force (FF Force) were seen at the protest.

The FF Force, a black-uniformed group who say they are "against racism, injustice & inequality" were at the Peckham event there to make sure protesters were "all in check" and "all in order", Mr Holmes-Lewis said.

The Peckham protest
The Peckham protest was attended by the Forever Family Force. Picture: LBC

Some people were heard chanting: "We don't need them, they need we."

Addressing the original video, DCS Adjei-Addoh said: "We know people will be concerned about a video circulating online of an incident in a shop.

The Peckham protest
The Peckham protest. Picture: LBC

"Our officers attended on Monday and continue to investigate the full circumstances of what has taken place. The investigation will include reviewing the actions of everyone involved.

"I would like to thank people in our local community for remaining calm and giving us the time to conduct a thorough investigation.

"If you have information that may help us I would urge you to get in touch."

Sadiq Khan said on Tuesday evening: "I know Londoners are concerned by the recent events in a shop in Peckham. I'm in touch with the Met Police and am urgently seeking further information."

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