How a street is rallying after man tried to put girl in van during night-time
PUBLISHED: 15:09 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:04 31 October 2019
A community has expressed its shock and said children will spend more time inside after a man allegedly tried to get a young girl in his van.
And the bombshell of the reported abduction attempt of a nine-year-old was being felt even more keenly on Halloween, when adults and children all dress up and no-one knows who is who.
In Baliol Road, Gorleston, families were busy preparing for the celebration while saying their children would only be allowed out if a parent was nearby.
One mum-of-two said the tight-knit community had pulled together since the incident at around 6.40pm on Wednesday when the girl was approached by a man, Norfolk Police have said.
She said everyone was making an effort to ensure households with children knew what had happened and to be extra vigilant.
"We all know each others' kids," she said. "We all know what they are like and we are just urging people to keep an eye out.
"It would be really hard to take someone from this road because everyone looks out for everyone else."
Susan Allen, who has lived in the street for 27 years, said there was a strong sense of community spirit but that people who were already vigilant were becoming "paranoid" about the risks.
She said balancing children's safety with the freedom to play out was becoming difficult in a street cluttered with numerous vans and high-sided vehicles that created "blind spots."
Over the years Baliol Road had been a haven for children kicking a ball around or playing games, with older teens mixing in with young ones and all playing together.
"It is brilliant to see," she said. "But after yesterday people are going to be well on-edge."
Another mum said children were always playing freely in the street rather than crossing the road to the Rec, adding: "They are not going to be doing that now."
In a statement, Norfolk Police said a man aged in his 40s and from the Kessingland area had been arrested after allegedly touching a young girl's arm and asking her to get into a van.
The girl managed to get free and was not injured, police said.
He is currently in police custody.
Detective inspector Tom Smith said: "We are in the early stages of our enquiries and while I understand the details of this incident will cause concern among the community, I would like to stress that incidents of this nature are rare in Norfolk and we are still trying to establish the full circumstances leading up to the event.
"Officers will be increasing patrols in the area over the coming days to offer reassurance to the local community and anyone with concerns are encouraged to speak to them or contact the Gorleston Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101."
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or anyone with information, should contact Norfolk Police on 101 quoting CAD reference 369 of October 30.