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Mystery over strange man in primary school toilets

The identity of an intruder found in the girls’ toilets of a primary school remains unknown. The man was spotted by a pupil at Reculver Primary School on Thursday morning, sparking a police search of the building. But despite a thorough investigation, the school has been unable to establish who the man was. It has since reviewed security measures at the school and moved to reassure parents about the safety of their children. In a statement, the school said:

“You should be reassured that this incident has been treated as very serious. The staff followed the security procedures but we will now review those procedures to see if they need to be reinforced. The girl pupil who reported the incident has to be highly commended for her calm approach and for the description of the intruder that she produced.”

Outlining the incident in a letter home to parents, the school says the “adult” was seen in the girls’ toilets shortly before 9am. A teacher was alerted and searched the area but there was no sign of the man. The deputy head was alerted and the police were called. The school was secured and searched and the girl gave staff a detailed description of the man, which was passed to police who arrived 30 minutes after the sighting. Staff on the school gate that morning failed to recognise a parent from the description, nor did the manager of the school’s on-site nursery. Deputy head Jenny Ashley-Jones sent a letter home saying the school was “fairly certain” it was an incident without “malicious intent”, later saying the intruder “may have been a parent”. A second letter sent home on Tuesday said “a parent” had posted on KentOnline, saying “it was them who innocently nipped into the toilet after dropping off their children”. But the Gazette investigated and discovered the comment was a hoax, posted by someone who admitted they had never been to Reculver. The school and police, who are continuing to investigate the incident, were informed of our findings. Parents on Facebook questioned Reculver’s response to the sighting after details were posted online by Hampton Primary School before they had been informed. Bosses at Reculver said they had alerted the area education officer as a matter of procedure, adding:

“In this case one of the staff from another school saw fit to publish the details on Facebook before we ourselves had the chance to alert our parents and carers.”

Reculver has now threatened to take “appropriate action” against parents who posted “incorrect facts” on Facebook or “posted or liked” information which directly named staff or “brought their professional judgement into disrepute”. Mrs Ashley-Jones said:

“Keeping the children of Reculver safe is our primary concern. As soon as we became aware of a potential incident, we dealt with it immediately. “We have spoken to all of the children to remind them of stranger danger rules.”

CCTV examined as teachers review security

The school has reviewed Its security measures to “ensure there will be no reoccurrence” of the intrusion. It said it will review CCTV of all approaches to the school and general areas within the school. In a statement, the school said:

“How the intruder was able to get inside the school building will also be rigorously investigated, a report drawn up and aft recommendations implemented. The school has a long perimeter between the sports field and the adjoining area. This has been reviewed and a report drawn up with recommendations. All doors leading to the playground will be permanently secured and opened as and when necessary, at which time they will be manned by a member of staff.”

A further review of the nursery gate security has been undertaken and a report drawn up with recommendations. The school said it will insist on the school and nursery adopting the same system of gate security.

Children report being approached

The toilet incident followed a report the previous day that a girl had been approached by a white van driver while she was walking to Herne Bay Junior School. In another incident earlier this month, a boy reported he had been approached by the driver of a car in Greenhill and offered a lift
to Herne Bay High School. Police said they will step up patrols outside schools in the town in a bid to reassure parents about their children’s safety. Insp Sharon Adley issued a statement last week calling for calm. She said:

“We have received several reports relating to suspicious incidents involving pupils from local schools. Suspicious incidents should be reported to police on 999 at the time to ensure we can provide an immediate response. None of the reports made appear to be linked. At present no criminal offences have been recorded. We are very aware that with the widespread use of social media, reports can sometimes contain well-meaning but inaccurate information which causes unnecessary alarm and fear. Officers have visited schools to ensure a consistent message is provided to parents.”

Herne Bay Gazette, March 26th 2015

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