Wiltshire Police apologises after officer took names of those buying copy of Charlie Hebdo magazine

Wiltshire Police have apologised after an officer visited a newsagent requesting details of customers who bought French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris massacre.

In a statement, the force said the officer's motivation was "purely around enhancing public safety".

The information had since been "securely disposed of", the force said.

It said in a statement: "Following the terrorism incident in Paris, France on January 7, 2015, Wiltshire Police undertook an assessment of community tensions across the county.

"As part of this work, local sector policing teams were asked to be mindful of business premises, in particular newsagents who may be distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine and to consider that these shops may be vulnerable.

"There was no specific threat nationally and nothing to suggest newsagents in particular would be vulnerable.

"A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent's owner to be vigilant.

"During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

"Wiltshire Police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of.

"Wiltshire Police are confident that the police officer's intention was purely around enhancing public safety and ensuring that the newsagent was advised appropriately."

Extremist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi killed 12 people – including two police – in the attacks on the satirical magazine's Paris headquarters on January 7. Charlie Hebdo staff had been meeting to discuss the magazine's forthcoming issue when the brothers stormed the building and opened fire.

The deaths prompted a wave of support from across the world, with newspapers carrying provocative cartoons in tribute to those killed.

A further four hostages were killed by conspirator Amedy Coulibaly at a Jewish supermarket two days later.

Several British distributors clamoured for copies to sell as demand for Charlie Hebdo reach unprecedented levels around the world.

The French Bookshop in London's South Kensington sold out of copies just over an hour after they went on sale on January 16.

The Guardian newspaper today carried a letter from a reader who said the police had visited a newsagents in the north of the county, "requesting the names of the four customers who had purchased Charlie Hebdo".

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