POLICE are stepping up patrols at schools after a man “jumped out of the bushes and took a picture of a girl” as she walked to school.

The man, believed to be in his 30s, did not approach the child and the incident was reported to the school, who contacted the police.

The incident was reported to take place on the morning of Monday November 18, when a Toynbee School student noticed the ‘suspicious man’ appear from the bushes at Fleming Park, and begin to take her photograph.

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: “ An 11-year-old girl reported a man was behaving suspiciously in the park whilst she was on her way to school at around 8.25am.

“It was reported that the man, described as white and aged in his 30s, came out of the bushes and took a picture of the girl as she was walking to school.

“He did not approach her and she continued to make her way to school. She was concerned about what happened and notified her parents, who then alerted us, which was the right thing to do.”

They added: “At this time, no offences have been identified, however it is also a good time to remind children about stranger danger.

“We understand that these kind of incidents are concerning and we have been working with the school to ensure children and parents alike are reassured, and to encourage reporting of any further suspicious behaviour to us. We’ll continue to patrol the areas at school start and leave times.”

Shortly after the incident was reported by the student, Toynbee School released an email to parents strongly advising them to ‘ensure their child does not walk to school or go home alone’, and they have encouraged children to be ‘vigilant and safe’.

Crestwood Community School then revealed it had recently had to issue similar safety warnings to parents in the area.

In a Facebook post, the school said: “We just want to reiterate the importance of students taking extra care when walking to and from school and please make sure they report anything they feel uncomfortable with to a parent, other adult and to the school.”

Anyone with information on the incident, or saw anything suspicious is encouraged to report it to the 101 service, or in the case of emergency, phone 999.

Alternatively, to report anything anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.