POLICE met with parents on Monday evening to offer reassurance about recent reports of attempted child abductions in Ellesmere Port.
More than 150 people packed into the Civic Suite, Civic Hall, Ellesmere Port, at 7pm on Monday, desperate for information about the suspicious incidents, first reported in February, that have left many families too scared to let their children out alone.
A panel of police representatives, including investigating officer detective inspector Gwyn Dodd, chief inspector Julie Westgate and inspector Peter Case, attempted to calm fears that have been fuelled by rumours and speculation amongst concerned residents.
Addressing the meeting, chief inspector Westgate said: “The reason for calling this meeting is to let you know where we are up to with the investigation of these suspicious incidents in Ellesmere Port.
“I know that yours is a very close knit community and you all look out for everyone else and we know you have been concerned about what has been going on.”
Investigating officer, detective inspector Gwyn Dodd told the parents there had been 25 separate reported incidents since February but confirmed he was only ‘seriously concerned’ about three of those.
He said: “We are aware of the enormous strength of feeling about a perceived lack of police response and I can assure you that is not the case. Be reassured that we are taking this very seriously.”
DI Dodd said: “We have not identified a pattern in any of the incidents reported and a significant number of the other reported incidents have been investigated and discounted as not suspicious.
“This included one supply teacher who was asking for directions to the nearest shop to buy cigarettes.”
He added that any vehicle registration details that have been reported have been investigated, as has CCTV footage.
He also confirmed that any people living locally on the Sexual Offenders Register have also been contacted and eliminated from ongoing enquiries.
He urged all parents to make their children aware of the situation, including asking them to take down any registration details and vehicle descriptions – even suggesting that they record the information as a draft text message in their mobile phone.
Insp Case added that he hadn’t felt it ‘proportionate’ to flood the streets around schools and childrens’ play areas with uniformed police officers in the wake of the first reports, for fear of scaring the children and jeopardising the investigation, which has instead relied on plain clothes officers.