Man arrested on suspicion of kidnap and impersonating a police officer after schoolgirl ‘searched’

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of kidnap and impersonating a police officer after he ‘searched’ a teenage girl on her way to school.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 12:13 pm

And they are issuing new advice on what people can do if they are alone and are worried at being approached by a lone police officer.

They spoke out today after a 14-year-old girl was approached by a man wearing a yellow hi-viz jacket in the Three Bridges area of Crawley just after 8am on Wednesday.

A police spokesman said the man “took her to an adjacent area off the road and searched her clothing before cycling off.

Sussex Police

“Following police enquiries and further information, a 32-year-old local man was detained in the town at 11.15am on Thursday October 14.

“He was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and of impersonating a police officer and is currently in custody for interview and further enquiries.”

Sussex Police say they have stepped up patrols in the area in a bid to reassure the public and are issuing advice on how people can seek help if they are approached by a lone police officer.

Superintendent Marc Clothier said: “We understand that this arrest will impact communities.

“The girl is safe and unharmed and is receiving support from officers, working with her family.

“We want to reassure people we have not received any similar reports at this time and there is no current risk to anyone in the community in relation to this case.

“You will see more uniformed patrols in the area and we encourage you to stop and talk to us if you have any concerns.

“If you have any information that would assist our investigation, please call us on 101, quoting Operation Lonsdale.

“If you do see any behaviour that causes you concern, please always call 999 right away.

“We understand some people may want additional reassurance when interacting with a lone police officer and when you are alone.

“If this is the case, genuine officers can use their police radio on loudspeaker to talk to the operator in the police control room.

“The operator can confirm the identity of the officer, that they are on duty and carrying out legitimate policing business.

“You can also ask a passer-by to observe.

“Off-duty officers intervening in a crime in action or where someone is vulnerable, and not carrying a radio, will quickly call 999 for back up.”