SCHOOLS in the Cotswolds have been put on red alert to stranger danger after an incident where a man approached a young girl in an alleyway.
All schools in the area have been warned by concerned children’s chiefs at Gloucestershire County Council and several have sent letters to parents and held special assemblies reminding children to stay safe.
The alarm centres on an incident in Stow when a mother and her two daughters were walking with a pushchair at about 4.30pm on Monday, January 20, near the Baptist Church alleyway.
One of the girls, who dropped her gloves and was sent back to get them, was approached by a man with a brown beard wearing a hoodie and jeans.
When the mother shouted the girls name the man ran off and got into a nearby blue car and sped off.
Police say there have been numerous reports of suspicious behaviour but are urging people not to panic.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: “There have been several reports of suspicious behaviour in theCotswolds but we would just urge everyone to remain calm and vigilant.
“It is important to stress that safety messages have been circulated by schools and parents across social media, in some cases fuelling further speculation, rumours and reports, albeit made with the right intentions.
“We don’t have any evidence of criminal intent in these cases and no one has been harmed.
“However, we understand people’s concerns and would urge parents and children to visit the Kids Aware section of our website just in case your child is spoken to by a stranger.”
Rebecca Scutt, headteacher of Stow Primary School, has spoken to her children in assembly and texted parents to ensure they are aware.
“As this was a local incident we thought it was timely to remind the children about stranger danger,|”
she said. “It’s the protocol of all schools when we get alerts to remind children in a non-frightening way. It’s thankfully quite rare in this area.”
In a letter to parents, headteacher at Bourton Primary School John Jones said they had also spoken to the children in an assembly.
“We reminded children about the dangers of talking with people ‘we don’t know’ and that we should never go off with them,”he said.
“This was then reinforced in classes.”
He stressed that he was not aware of any incidents reported to have taken place in Bourton.
Paul McLain, cabinet member for children and young people and commissioning at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We take incidents like this very seriously and react immediately by sending rapid warnings to all schools, head teachers, children’s centres, independent schools and colleges.”