‘There is no cause for alarm,’ top Croydon officer says
The force’s Croydon branch tweeted that officers were aware of “alarming social media posts” providing “speculative details” about the alleged incidents and asked that people not “speculate any further”.
Four abduction attempts have been reported in southeast London in recent weeks, but police have previously said that they do not believe they are linked.
Croydon MPS superintendent Andy Brittain said in a statement: “I understand the concern expressed on social media and would like to reassure people there is no cause for alarm.
“If we receive information that increases any risk to our children, I will ensure that our residents and schools are made aware immediately. I would urge the community not to speculate any further.”
Police say they received a report that an 11-year-old boy was chased by two men after being approached by a black van on Whitmore Road in Beckenham on 30 April.
They received another report that an eight-year-old boy was approached on the same day in the woods at the nearby Kelsey Park.
The force was also told on 6 May that a schoolboy had been followed by a man on the street the previous day.
On 7 May, they were told about a possible abduction attempt in The Glades shopping centre in Bromley, after a man reportedly tried to grab a child’s hand after walking behind her with a second man.
None of the children were abducted or harmed during the alleged incidents.
Mr Brittain said on 7 May that the public should remain “vigilant” but not “unduly alarmed” about kidnapping.
“I am aware of varying reports online both in the news and on social media and I fully understand the concerns of parents in light of these reports,” he said.
“I would encourage the public to remain vigilant, but not to be unduly alarmed. Child kidnappings or abductions are, thankfully, incredibly rare, but we are not complacent.”
He added that the Met had increased its presence in places where children typically gather.
Two alleged incidents involving children have also caused alarm in Enfield, north London.
But detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming said in a statement that she did not believe child abduction was committed in either case.
“I fully understand the concerns from parents and residents in Enfield following reports of a suspicious incident on 15 May in the Enfield Lock area involving a white van and then a separate incident on 18 May whereby a 10-year-old boy was reported missing,” she said.
“Please be reassured that extensive enquiries have been conducted and at this time I do not believe that any offences of child abduction have been committed on either occasion.”
Ms Fleming also asked the public to refrain from speculating about the incidents on social media.