Parents and schools have been on high alert across Tunbridge Wells after a number of disturbing incidents have led to concerns about the safety of pupils.
The most recent occurrence, a ‘serious safeguarding incident’, involved a pupil from Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar, who was followed near Dunorlan Park by a man in a white van on Friday morning.
It comes shortly after a series of similar scares across west Kent, including a male pupil from The Skinners’ Kent Academy who was approached by two men in a white van about 9am last Wednesday (October 14) on Beulah Road.
There have also been reports of people wearing clown and Halloween masks, ‘deliberately trying to scare’ pupils on their way to and from school in Tonbridge according to police.
The latest incident has led to TWGGS head Linda Wybar’s emailing parents to tell them pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 had been given ‘special briefings’ on staying safe.
The advice included staying ‘very vigilant’ while walking to and from school, keeping with friends or in pairs and reporting anything suspicious to a parent, the school or police.
In addition, pupils were told: “If you feel you are being approached or followed you may need to speak another pedestrian, small group or go into a shop and ask them to call the police.”
To the parents themselves, Mrs Wybar wrote: “Please reassure your daughters not to be worried but to be vigilant and stay safe at all times.”
Tunbridge Wells chief inspector Dave Pate said: “We are still working to establish whether any offences have been committed.
“However, I want to assure parents that we take the safety of all children very seriously and have extra officers on patrol around schools. I would also ask parents to make sure they remind children how to keep safe.”
He added: “If any child is approached or has any concerns about people behaving suspiciously they should report it immediately to their parents or schoolteachers who can then report it to police.”