WHAT IS it going to take – my daughter or somebody else’s daughter being abducted – before more action is taken?
Those were the words of one ‘terrified’ borough mum in the wake of the latest ‘attempted abduction’ in Solihull.
We revealed on last week’s front page how a 13-year-old schoolgirl had her blazer grabbed by a stranger in Chelveston Crescent, Hillfield.
It was the third ‘attempted abduction’ in the borough since the start of the year and the seventh ‘incident’ involving schoolgirls being approached or receiving suggestive comment from strangers.
The Observer contacted West Midlands Police and Solihull Council in the wake of the latest incident – demanding answers as to what measures were being taken to keep the borough’s children safe.
And our feelings have been echoed by scores of anxious parents who have e-mailed, written in and called us.
One worried mum, who did not wish to be named, said: “I appreciate they do not want to cause concern but these incidents can no longer be ignored and simply dismissed as a near miss.
“The safety of our children is at stake and this cannot be allowed to continue.”
Responding to our request for action and explanation, Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner from Solihull Police said the police appreciate that reports involving the safety of youngsters can be an emotive subject – but that they don’t want people to be unduly alarmed as abduction attempts are ‘extremely rare’ and the vast majority of the reports are ultimately found to be innocent and borne out of people simply having the best interests of children at heart.
She added: “Since the start of the year we have had one reported attempt abduction which has been thoroughly investigated.
“Sometimes the safety messages that are passed on to pupils can heighten their awareness about these issues.
“This can lead to an increase in reported incidents – made in good faith – but they are often discovered to involve no criminal activity.
“Despite this, we would always ask anyone who has concerns to call the police immediately so we can then decide what the appropriate action is to take.”
She added that the force would continue to work closely with schools and, where requested, will speak to their pupils and offer ‘stranger danger’ safety advice.
She also urged parents to remind their children about their personal safety.
A Solihull Council spokesperson said the wellbeing of all children in the borough is of paramount importance and it is confident all necessary actions have been taken by it and the borough’s schools.
They added: “With the Police, we will also be taking a report about these latest incidents to the Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board so they can be satisfied appropriate action has been taken and we have good systems in place.”
Safety advice from the police:
* Never go off on your own with a stranger, take things from them or get in a car with them.
* Make sure you tell your parents where you are.
* If someone scares you, or makes you feel uncomfortable go somewhere safe, which could be your home, your school or a police station.
* Remember to tell someone what has happened straight away.
* Always dial 999 in an emergency.