Belfast Telegraph

Approaches to young children probed

Police are investigating whether four reports of suspicious approaches to young children in Newtownabbey are linked.

Officers have stepped up patrols around schools and youth clubs in response and said they are treating the alleged incidents "extremely seriously".

The latest happened in the Tulleevin Walk area around 7.45pm on Wednesday night when a man reportedly got out of a dark blue van and approached a 10-year-old boy. Police said the child ran away, at which point the man got back into the van and drove off.

Officers said they are also investigating reports of an approach in Fernagh Avenue on October 1 and two the following day, in Green Walk and Queens Park.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed they are examining whether the four incidents are linked. However, it is understood the descriptions of the individuals and vehicles involved differ.

The man reported to police on Wednesday night was described as being around 5ft 6in tall, wearing a black hooded top with the hood up and black bottoms, which were tucked into black boots.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Police would like to reassure local people that officers take all such calls or any issue relating to child safety extremely seriously.

"In addition to the comprehensive inquiries being carried out by CID, local response and neighbourhood officers have been increasing the frequency of their patrols around local schools and have been in direct contact with a number of schools to offer any advice or guidance they might require.

"Our local schools liaison officer has also been on hand for additional support for schools. Targeted patrolling has also been put in place in areas around youth clubs and other places frequented by children and young people."

The PSNI urged anyone who noticed any suspicious activity to report it on 0845 600 8000 or via 999.

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