Monday 26 September 2016

Police have 'credible witness' in report of young boy taken away in van

Jemma Crew, Thomas Hornall and Dominic Harris

Published 26/08/2016 | 19:25

A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. John Stillwell/PA Wire
Detective Superintendent Chris Edwards from Surrey Police, talks to the media, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off from the Redstone Hill, Redhill area in Surrey on 25th August.John Stillwell/PA Wire
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. John Stillwell/PA Wire
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. John Stillwell/PA Wire
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. John Stillwell/PA Wire
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. Georgina Stubbs/PA Wire
Detective Superintendent Chris Edwards from Surrey Police, talks to the media, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off from the Redstone Hill, Redhill area in Surrey on 25th August.John Stillwell/PA Wire

Police investigating reports of a child abduction in Surrey insist they are "completely satisfied" they have a "credible witness", despite not receiving any reports of missing children.

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Detective Superintendent Chris Edwards said officers are investigating two theories following a claim that a boy was taken into a van and abducted in Redhill on Thursday afternoon.

The boy, aged around six or seven and wearing a red T-shirt and navy jeans, was reported to have been taken into the side of a black Volkswagen Transporter with an 02 licence plate, and Mr Edwards said police had narrowed the time frame down to between 4.25pm and 4.40pm.

He ruled out from inquiries a black VW Transporter van with a roof rack that police had previously circulated pictures of, though he stressed officers still want to trace a similar van with three alloy wheels and a distinct fourth space-saver wheel, designed for temporary use.

Detective Superintendent Chris Edwards from Surrey Police, talks to the media, as police are taking
Detective Superintendent Chris Edwards from Surrey Police, talks to the media, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off from the Redstone Hill, Redhill area in Surrey on 25th August.John Stillwell/PA Wire

He said a mountain bike found at the scene did not belong to the boy but was related to another individual unconnected to the incident - though he said the bike is still relevant to the police investigation.

Mr Edwards said: "We're operating two particular theories, the first one and the priority line of investigation is that this is exactly as portrayed and reported, and that a child has been abducted from the roadside.

"The second theory that we are operating is that if you were at that location and involved in an incident yesterday involving your own child, or a child that you are connected to, we would urge you to come forward and make contact immediately in order that we can scale this investigation back and offer messages of reassurance to the public."

Mr Edwards added it was "implicit" that a child would be in danger given the circumstances as it appears the child was taken "against their will", although there was "no information to suggest a struggle".

A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. John Stillwell/PA Wire

He also stressed the "credibility of the witness" as being important to their inquiries.

There have been 130 reports by members of the public relating to the apparent abduction, he said, and police are "keeping a very open mind" about the investigation.

But he said: "I can confirm that we still don't have, within the county, within the region or nationally, a report of a missing person fitting that description to date."

A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking
A general view of where an abandoned bike was found in Redhill, Surrey, as police are taking "extremely seriously" a report of a child being taken into a van before it drove off. John Stillwell/PA Wire

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