I can understand – and sympathise – with residents of Blenheim Park today who will be shocked, angry, but mainly worried and scared by the headlines in today’s Southend Echo.
It appears that on Friday morning that a man might have been attempting to abduct an 11 year old girl on Bridgewater Drive. Police made house-to-house enquiries which whilst I am sure (in fact I know, being a former Policeman myself) is a necessary part of the investigation, does understandably cause concerns for residents of the area.
Residents can be reassured that I am on the case – this morning I have already contacted the senior Police Officer responsible for Southend, as well as the Corporate Director and Head of Children’s Services as the Council to ensure that there is a co-ordinated response between them, and asking that whatever resources are available can be put to good use to reassure residents in this area – as well as finding the man ASAP so he can assist police with their investigation.
Having been responsible for children’s welfare, and sat on the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (the multi-agency group that meets to ensure there are joined up efforts and operations between all the different agencies in Southend), for over two years when I was the Cabinet Member for Children & Learning, I ask for residents to put this into perspective. This is VERY RARE and in my tenure I never heard of a case like this in Southend. So whilst parents should be careful and help protect their children, I would be saddened to see an overreaction – it is nice and hot and children need to be allowed out to play!
Residents with any concerns should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any information that may assist the police should be reported to them on 101. Of course, any new incident or where parents/carers are worried that anyone is acting suspiciously should be reported to the police on the emergency number 999.