Suella Braverman scolds police after officers seize golliwog dolls

Suella Braverman blasts police force for sending FIVE officers to seize collection of golliwog dolls from family pub as Home Office source warns they ‘shouldn’t be involved in this nonsense’

  • Dolls at Essex pub seized because their presence was a suspected ‘hate crime’
  • Suella Braverman is said to have been furious about the police’s approach 

The Home Secretary has scolded a police force for sending five officers to a family-owned pub to seize a collection of golliwog dolls, it was revealed yesterday.

An anonymous complaint was made about the White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex, and 15 dolls were seized because their presence was a suspected ‘hate crime’.

Suella Braverman is said to have been furious about the approach, which also saw police question pub owner Benice Ryley, and has told Essex Police that bosses should be focusing on catching real criminals rather than seizing toys.

A Home Office source said: ‘The Home Secretary’s views have now been made very plain to Essex Police so they’re under no illusions.

‘Police forces should not be getting involved in this kind of nonsense. It’s about tackling anti-social behaviour, stopping violence against women and girls, attending burglaries and catching criminals – not seizing dolls.’

Chris Ryley (left) runs the White Hart in Grays, Essex, along with his wife, Benice (right)

Benice Ryley, 61, was quizzed by six officers after police received an anonymous complaint about the golliwog display at The White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex

The College of Policing issued updated guidance last month stating that non-crime hate incidents should not be recorded where there is no basis to conclude that an incident was motivated by hostility.

The guidance also states: ‘Wherever possible, freedom of speech should be prioritised.’

The source added: ‘The announcement of new non-crime hate incident guidance last month, due to be in force by summer, should see an end to this [sort of incident] once and for all.’

The now controversial golliwog figure was created by American-British cartoonist and author Florence Kate Upton and began appearing in children’s books in the 19th century.

The physical dolls became popular in Britain in the 1970s but came to be considered a racist caricature of black people.

The first known example of the dolls being seized by British police was in 2007, when Greater Manchester Police confiscated two from a furniture shop near Wigan, Greater Manchester. 

CCTV footage of last week’s incident shows the officers march into the pub and stuff the dolls into an evidence bag.

Mrs Ryley, 61, said she has been told the couple are unlikely to get them back until after her husband Chris, 65, returns from Turkey in May and is questioned too.

She said she plans to prepare a warning sign about the golliwogs.

‘They still have the dolls and I have no updates from the police at all,’ Mrs Ryley said.

‘The whole thing is totally mad. Since the gollies were taken and the story was in the newspapers, we have had so many people get in touch with myself and my husband to say we shouldn’t give up and should keep them on our shelf.

‘Over the last two days my customers keep singing ‘save the gollies’ and they want us to get them back. So we are having a sign prepared that will say ‘gollies are on display, so don’t come in if that offends you’ and once that’s ready we’ll restore some more of the dolls to the shelf.’

One officer puts the golliwog dolls into a clear evidence bag 

CCTV shows six officers walking into the pub before seizing the dolls 

Mrs Ryley, who has run the pub with her husband for 17 years, said some of the dolls are very valuable, with one worth up to £1,000.

They have built a collection of the black-faced toys and other memorabilia donated by customers over the years.

The pub has previously refused to move the dolls after the local authority received a complaint in 2018. Mrs Ryley said: ‘They are sentimentally very valuable.

‘The last thing this pub is is racist, we hold Indian weddings here all the time and of course everyone is welcome. I told the officers it was all ridiculous to send so many of them for such a small thing – as they were bagging the gollies up I said “don’t worry, they won’t resist arrest”.’

Essex Police said: ‘We are investigating an allegation of hate crime reported to us on 24 February. On Tuesday, 4 April, officers seized several items in connection with that investigation.

‘The investigation is ongoing so we will not be commenting further at this stage.

‘The force is proud of the work we do to prevent crime, tackle offenders and build trust and confidence in all communities.’

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