Police chief urged to order inquiry over Thetford tent death

Ian Clarke Norfolk's chief constable has been asked to order an urgent inquiry after a Polish man froze to death in a tent in Thetford.

Ian Clarke

Norfolk's chief constable has been asked to order an urgent inquiry after a Polish man froze to death in a tent in Thetford.

The body of Mariusz Fidos, 33, was found at Barnham Common five days before Christmas and he had been sleeping rough in the area with other men, including his twin brother Piotr.

It remains unclear how long they had been staying in the area, but there are reports they had been there for several weeks.

Peter Smith, Labour parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, said he was “extremely concerned” about the events surrounding Mr Fidos's death, especially what had been done to help him and other men .

Breckland Council said four men were found sleeping in the area in October, but the Fidos brothers were not among them.

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Mr Smith said: “I am alarmed that a situation, which was known about for some weeks, was not acted upon in sufficient time to prevent this completely avoidable death.”

In a letter to Norfolk police chiefs, Mr Smith said: “What we now see is a concerted effort by Breckland Council to promote the idea that officers and councillors had done everything possible for Mariusz and his fellow 'campers'. This is so evidently not the case.”

Mr Smith added: “I am therefore asking you to initiate an urgent police inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, including the roles of all the agencies involved. It is indeed an irony that the Safer Thetford Action Group, knowing in advance of this developing situation, was unable to ensure the safety of this unfortunate man.”

A post-mortem examination revealed early indications are that Mr Fidos died from hypothermia.

The case has now been passed to the coroner. Police said the man's death remains “unexplained” but a spokesman said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Police did not want to comment on Mr Smith's letter.

Thetford town councillor Terry Jermy said: “I think we owe it to Mr Fidos to properly examine what happened and learn lessons so that this cannot happen again. I cannot believe that in this country today, someone can be allowed to die from the cold in a tent.”

A Breckland Council spokesman said: “In early October, the housing advice and homelessness service visited Barnham Cross Common to offer advice to four men who had been reported as sleeping in a tent. Mariusz and Piotr Fidos were not among the men who were occupying the tent at that time.”

A statement said the men were offered help to travel to their home countries, but they declined and expressed a wish to continue living in the tent on the Common.

The council has not said how long it though the Fidos brothers had been on the Common.