POLICE have stepped up patrols outside Bitterne Junior School, in Southampton, after a pupil was approached by a stranger.

A nine-year-old girl was walking to Bitterne Junior School, along Peartree Avenue, when an unknown man started walking alongside her and talking to her.

Officers confirmed that the girl had been taught about stranger danger and so ran away to join another nearby family. The man then walked off towards Little Lances Hill and the girl reported the incident at school.

A police spokeswoman said that they were investigating and had stepped up patrols to reassure parents and pupils.

She said: “No attempt was made to grab the girl but she has been left shaken and upset. Officers from the Safer Neighbourhoods team have spoken with the girl and her mother and conducted patrols outside the school to offer reassurance to other parents and pupils.

“The team are also working closely with the girl’s school to arrange further stranger danger talks for the pupils.”

Bitterne ward councillor Royston Smith praised the school for taking action and said that teaching children about stranger danger was important.

He said: “It’s a lesson in life for everyone. There are probably no more incidents today than there were when I was younger and that is because we keep it at the forefront of people’s minds and we have to continue to impress upon children how important it is not to go off with anyone they don’t know.

“The school has most definitely done the right thing going to the police. There may be some people who would say it will spook people but schools should always report these things.

“It’s absolutely imperative the message of stranger danger keeps getting taught and children are warned about this sort of thing.

“Thank goodness this ended the way it did and she had been taught that advice and remembered that advice.”

Anyone with information on the incident, which took place on the morning of Wednesday, March 19, should contact the Safer Neighbourhood team on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.