Yesterday evening my neighbour knocked at the door asking to use the phone to contact the police. Her 10 year old daughter had been walking home from the shops with her classmate, and being kids they took a forbidden shortcut down an alleyway. For some reason, perhaps because they knew they were doing something they'd been told not to, the girls took fright when they saw a man dressed in black with his cap pulled down obscuring his face. The girls ran away from this man who pursued them and shouted after them to 'get back here'. The girls were pretty shaken up when they arrived home.
As there have been reports locally between parents of the children in this age group that some of the girls have been having strange friend requests and other approaches made to them by adults on social networking sites, and because the man had actually chased the girls we phoned the police central control room to report the incident.
Merseyside police responded brilliantly. They took a detailed report and description over the phone, and whilst that was in progress dispatched a car to the area to see if they could spot anyone. They'd also received a report from another parent concerned the same man may have approached girls of the same age in a park a few minutes away from where the girls were initially chased. A female police officer arrived at the house to talk to my neighbour's child whilst we were still on the phone giving details of the incident. Whilst she was there she spent some time explaining to the little girl the dangers of strangers, reassuring her that she'd done the right thing by running home and calling the police and to listen to her mother in future.
The police often get negative publicity about not responding to low level criminal incidents or being too busy to attend, but very little praise when they get things right. So, thank you to Merseyside Police for responding so quickly and appropriately.