Extra patrols after man chases children

The footpath off Frendstaple Road that was cordoned off following the attack on Saturday. Police cordoned off the woods next to it
The footpath off Frendstaple Road that was cordoned off following the attack on Saturday. Police cordoned off the woods next to it
Police outside student accommodation in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth on Friday Picture Ben Fishwick

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SCHOOLS are taking extra precautions and police are stepping up patrols as the hunt goes on for one or more attackers in the Waterlooville area.

Parents of schoolchildren have been emailed or texted by schools about the suspicious incidents and have been urged to remain extra vigilant.

Meanwhile, the local MP for the Stakes estate, David Willetts, said the ‘full resources’ of the police need to go in catching the culprit.

In the last 10 days, there have been four incidents of a man acting suspiciously, including two accounts of children being followed and in the latest report, a 14-year-old girl being attacked.

The descriptions of the attacker vary, however, and detectives still do not know whether the incidents are linked.

Mr Willetts told The News: ‘It’s a very worrying time for parents. The full resources of the police need to be put into catching this man before he threatens any more children.’

Parents in the area said they were still very worried.

A 31-year-old mum-of-two, who works at Springwood Community Centre, in Stakes, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It’s quite worrying.

‘My kids are nine and five and I don’t let them wander around anyway, but my friend’s daughter is 13 and her mum is really concerned about letting her out.’

Police confirmed schools in Waterlooville were informed last week about the incidents.

A wider public appeal was not released until Tuesday evening, but school leaders said they had already made pupils and parents aware.

Paul Foxley, headteacher at Purbrook Park School, said: ‘We always ensure that any incidents that are reported to us from pupils, parents, police and nearby schools are sent out to all our parents by email and text the same day.

‘Tutors remind pupils to stay vigilant, try and walk together or in groups and always stay safe.’

Matthew Quinn, headteacher of Oaklands Catholic School, said: ‘We have emailed all parents with a brief letter we received from the police so all our parents are aware of the situation.’

Chief Inspector Patrick Holdaway, district commander for Havant and Waterlooville police, said he ‘understood people’s concerns’ and said officers informed schools last week to make people aware.

He added: ‘There have been extra patrols in the area and these will continue.

‘We are pursuing lots of lines of inquiry.

‘We ask people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to police.’

Call police on 101.