Oh, never mind

The report coming in to Thames Valley Police in West Oxfordshire, England, appeared serious. Some-one, it said, was distributing a drug to pupils outside the gates to their schools. So the officer on duty – being a conscientious sort – went into action immediately. And because he did, his superiors are apologizing profusely. Our guy forwarded the warning to schools across the district, whose administrators, in turn, alerted parents. In fact, they even convened special assemblies to reinforce the point: Beware of peddlers offering you "strawberry meth," a fruit-flavored version of the highly addictive methamphetamine. But the scare lasted barely a day ... after it was discovered that the officer had fallen for a hoax believed to have found its way into the Internet. The police sought to verify that "strawberry meth" has been circulating in Britain, and discovered that no such drug exists. Indeed, a watchdog group known as DrugScope already had advised Britons to be aware of the issue. Back at the West Thames Police Department, once all this set in, a prompt retraction followed. At the same time, it was careful to credit the well-meaning cop with acting in good faith. As for disciplinary action, there won't be any. But all hands will be reminded to follow "necessary procedures" next time.

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