Police urge people to be vigilant in Rawtenstall

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Detectives investigating a number of reported incidents of suspicious behaviour in Rawtenstall are reassuring people that they are being thoroughly investigated.

Officers are currently looking into five reports of suspicious behaviour, mainly in the Haslingden Road area.

The first incident occurred around 7.00pm on Monday 13 May when a 10 year old girl was riding her bike along Helmshore Road in Helmshore when a man in a black vehicle stopped and asked her to get inside. The man is described white with a skinhead.

The second incident occurred at 8.45am on Friday 17 May when a 12 year old girl was walking along Haslingden Road towards All Saints Language College. A man driving a dark coloured car stopped and asked the girl if she wanted to get into the vehicle. The man is described as white, aged in his 50s with a bald head. He was driving a medium sized dark coloured car.

On both occasions the girls refused to get inside the car and the car drove off.

At 5.30pm on Tuesday 21 May, a 15 year old boy was walking along Haslingden Road when a dark coloured vehicle slowed down and appeared to follow the boy for a short distance. However, when the boy turned down a side street the car drove off.

On Wednesday 22 May, a man followed a girl and two boys, aged 12, 13 and 14, as they walked to school along Haslingden Road. The man had his hands inside his trousers. A 25 year old man from Haslingden has been arrested on suspicion of causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity and is currently in custody.

The most recent incident occurred around 8.00am on Thursday 23 May. A 13 year old girl was walking along Haslingden Road when a dark blue, medium sized car pulled alongside her. A man got out of the passenger side of the car and approached her and asked her to get inside. He touched her shoulder and the girl told him to get off and ran off at which point he got back in the car and the car drove off.

Police have received three other reports of suspicious behaviour in the Haslingden Road area, however, having been thoroughly investigated, they have since been discounted.

Detective Sergeant Phil Pilkington, of Burnley CID, said: “We understand the public are going to be alarmed and concerned by reports of incidents like this. We are encouraging parents, schools and the community to be vigilant and would like to reassure people that these incidents are being thoroughly investigated.

“I must stress that we take all reports made to us extremely seriously and we have a dedicated team of detectives following up every allegation that is made to us. However, in order for us to be able to put the most resources into investigating and getting to the bottom of allegations, it is really important that people report first hand instances of suspicious behaviour and to try and avoid repeating gossip and third hand information.

“If anybody does see anything suspicious, we would urge them to try and take in a description of the person involved or make a note of the registration plate and if at all possible take a picture of the vehicle.

“We will continue to have uniformed officers patrolling and our neighbourhood teams will continue to maintain strong links with schools to discuss any developments.

“Parents are advised to discuss any concerns they or their children have with the school and take sensible precautions in relation to ensuring the safety of their children travelling to and from school.”

Anyone with information or concerns should report them to police on the non-emergency number 101. However, in an emergency always ring 999.