THE schoolgirl at the centre of an abduction claim in Southampton has admitted she made up the incident.
Thousands of worried parents were told to make special arrangements for getting their children to and from school after the 12-year-old told teachers and police a man had tried to force her into a van as she walked to Redbridge Community School last month.
Detectives cordoned off part of a nearby park and went door-to-door, as well as trawling through CCTV footage from the area as part of their urgent investigation, while school leaders beefed up patrols and sent texts and letters home to warn mums and dads.
But the girl, who said she had been approached by a man in a white Transit van near the Cuckmere Lane school on the morning of September 20, last night said she had lied about the whole thing.
Police today revealed a similar incident reported in Bursledon yesterday also proved to be completely false.
Detective Chief Inspector Pete McGowan said “considerable police resources” had been invested to investigate the Redbridge allegation, “which raised unnecessary alarm and concerns within the local community”, and resulted in officers being taken away from investigating other crimes.
He said: “Whenever an allegation is made, rumour quickly spreads within the local community and quite understandably people become anxious, especially when the word 'abduction' is used.
“This in turn could create hysteria which leads to an increase in reporting.
“Also, placing and passing on unconfirmed rumour, especially through social networks like Facebook only heightens the problem and causes increased concern within the neighbourhood and local school communities.
“We would therefore strongly urge people not to engage in this practice.
“Rest assured that the police will always pro-actively release information to the public through the media and social network sites if and when an incident has occurred.
“The girl now realises that what she did was wrong and has shown regret and remorse and no further action will be taken on this occasion.
“However, making any false or malicious claim to the police is a very serious offence and can result in the person being arrested.”