Man arrested after 'pretending to be police officer' in alleged bid to kidnap girl, 14

·2 min read
Police - PA
Police - PA

A man has been detained after allegedly posing as a police officer in order to approach and kidnap a teenage girl.

The incident occurred on Wednesday morning in the Three Bridges area of Crawley, Sussex, as the 14-year-old was walking to school.

The man, who was wearing a hi-viz yellow jacket, allegedly approached the girl and, after claiming to be a police officer, took the girl off to an adjacent area of the road.

After conducting a search of her clothing, the man left the girl, who was unharmed, and cycled off.

Sussex Police said a 32-year-old local man had been arrested on Thursday morning on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and kidnap.

Echoes of Sarah Everard abduction

The incident comes just weeks after the revelation that Wayne Couzens, a serving Met Police officer, used his warrant card to falsely arrest Sarah Everard before kidnapping, raping and murdering her.

Superintendent Marc Clothier, of Sussex Police, 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."

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