Stranger touching DS in station store - v v long, but seeking reassurance that IWNBU(139 Posts)
After a looong day, DS (4yo) and I popped into a store at Victoria Station to pick up a
piece of plastic tat little toy I had promised him. DS is standing right next to me looking at one stand, I was looking at the opposite stand. DS and I don't look very alike at all, so it is possible that anyone looking at us could have thought he was unaccompanied (other than the lady i.e. me! standing within 45cm of him!).
Suddenly, out of the blue, a man (white male, wearing glasses, 50s/60s, approx 5'10", wearing a casual suit but of slightly dishevelled appearance) appears/stands next to DS - he is looking higher up the same stand and, without removing his gaze from that higher level, puts his arm around DS and starts to touch/fondle DS's shoulder whilst appearing to pull DS closer to him as though to lead him away. Poor DS froze! It happened in a split second and was clearly deliberate!
I immediately pulled DS away and challenged the man, telling him to get his hands off my son and not deign to touch him again. The man looks at me as though in anger but says nothing. I don't know how to explain it but his reaction made me think that perhaps he was not NT. He offered no explanation/excuse at all (e.g. he thought DS was alone and was trying to help). He then looks over at the stand again in a bid (I assume) to ignore me. I challenge him again, telling him he had no right to approach or lay a finger on my son. He turns to me and his response (said in a low voice but which he deliberately intended me to hear) was, "And why shouldn't I?". This chilled me to the bone and I pointed out that there was a video camera trained directly at us and I would report the incident to the British Transport Police. I turn around to find a member of staff - whilst telling them what just happened and pointing the man out to them, the man slips past us, leaving the store.
At this point, I deliberately made a decision to follow him out of the store. My short-term memory is atrocious and, having been a victim of an assault a few years ago, I remembered how difficult it was to give an accurate eye-witness description of the perpetrators. I almost wanted to leave it be but, given his reaction on being challenged, all I could think was that the man was clearly a risk (be that to himself if he in fact was not NT, or others).
I found him standing in the station concourse staring at the display (without his glasses on), as though looking for a train to catch. I took my phone out and said to him that I was going to take a photo of him and send it on to the BTP (I know you can take photos of people in public areas without requesting their consent, but I wanted to avoid any possibility of my actions being accused as underhand/surreptitious). He appeared to take a step towards me and DS and I say again loudly that he is not to touch my child. I wanted to get as many people's attention as possible. I leave the man staring after DS and I, and we return to the store. I tell the staff again what just happened, that I had taken a photo of the man and that I was going to file a report with the BTP. They reassured me and told me that they would happily give up any CCTV to the BTP to assist. To try and regain some normalcy for DS and reassure him that he had done nothing wrong, DS and I continue browsing.
One of the store staff suddenly approached me and DS and asked if I would recognise the man. I said yes and asked why. Turns out the man had just come back into the store! He was approaching the children's section again but on seeing me and the member of staff looking at him, turns on his heel and leaves the store. He goes to sit on one of the public benches and proceeds to stare into the store.
At this point, I decide that I shouldn't wait to file a report with the BTP. I head back into the station (the man stares at me and DS, and I stared back to show I was not going to be cowed) and approach the ticket barriers and request that the guards contact the BTP. All the while, the man is still sitting on the same bench but, by this time, has turned around/changed his seat to face me and DS. I pick DS up and turn his face away so he can't see the man staring at us, and I explain to him what is going on. A member of the BTP finally turns up after what seems like ages. I look towards the bench but the man appears to have moved on shortly before.
After a brief walk-around, we never did find the man. Long story short, the BTP took a statement from me and I emailed them the pictures there and then. I was nervous that perhaps I had overreacted but they reassured me that I had done the right thing. They said that they would put his details out to the guards at the barriers to be on the look-out should he try to board a train.
Then, half an hour later, I receive a phone call from the Met who appear to imply that it is only worth their pursuing it if I thought there was any adverse intent to the man's actions. The officer I spoke to didn't use the word "sexual" at any point, but it seemed clear to me that that was what he meant. I told him that I could not say with all certainty what the man's intention was, but it clearly could not be positive if he made no attempt to offer any rational explanation about/for his behaviour. I was told they will contact me should anything come up.
I'm not hopeful that the man will be found. I am still shaking and seething about the whole thing. I have, in the past, given DS the "talk" several times about what to do if he is approached by anyone, strangers or not, and that he is to tell them in a loud voice to leave him alone and immediately shout for/come and get me or his father, but my poor 4yo just froze in shock/fear. I feel like I failed to protect DS, and worse, may even have put him at further risk by going after the man to take a photo. All I could think the whole time was that I wanted to hit the man for touching my baby and make sure he doesn't get the chance to do that to someone else's child. Now finding it hard to sleep as I keep replaying the incident in my head. I know in my heart of hearts that my actions were probably not unreasonable, but some reassurance would be much appreciated.
I would definitely contact your local MP or councillor - the police response is just not good enough and needs investigating.
I had a job that put me and my contact details in the public domain. I got a rather dodgy and suggestive phone message from 2 very drunk young men one night - so drunk they didn't even bother to block their number.
I called the police to report it and have it logged - they offered to go round and talk to the men, I declined in case it escalated things, but said please do if it happens again. 24 hours later I had a call from victim support offering me counselling!
I've always had a sneaky suspicion that due to my job, they were falling over themselves to be efficient and had I just been joe public at the time I would not have got the same response.
This man's behaviour was distinctly abnormal and worrying. There is so much about child abuse and abductions in the media, that most men would have been falling over themselves to apologise and being mortified. The only possible excuse I can see for his behaviour is if he was out with his son who was the same age and look and he'd mistaken your son for his own.
When I was in my very early teens (and I was a late developer so looked very much like a child) a man tried to entice me to his house on 2 separate occasions, in 2 different locations with about a year gap between the incidents. I was too ashamed to tell anyone. I still regret that and worry that my not taking it to the police may have put another girl/s in danger as he was obviously predatory.
You did exactly the right thing, and his subsequent behaviour means that the police should not just be fobbing you off.
You have done the right thing OP.
And to the family member- it was the fact that the OP was watching her DS that she was able to react in the way she did.
Situations like this are terrible. The police often won't act unless the worst happens. This man won't give up trying to do whatever his intentions are.
OP, you are brilliant, and I hope they identify this guy.
Make a request directly to WH Smith for the CCTV footage under the data protection act.
I'm pretty sure they retain images for one month, but not longer.
The police are acting this way because they don't think they will get a "result" and their stats will be negatively affected if it is logged as an unsolved crime.
cumfy, I know that's exactly why they aren't pursuing this to the extent I would hope/expect.
I would not want to circulate the man's picture as a matter of course. I work in a sensitive profession and the last thing I want would be a libel suit or anything approaching a reprimand from the police (unjustified or not). I will follow up with the BTP tomorrow to find out if they've done anything e.g. requested CCTV from WH Smith. Will also call up WH Smith tomorrow and see what they say regarding their CCTV and what procedure(s) they follow if/when events like these occur (which are hopefully few and far between!).
Thanks again to everyone for their kind words and support - has been much appreciated. Apologies for the intermittent and oddly-timed responses - I'm unlikely to be online very much as I've not been all that well and am back at work later this week, but I shall update when I can if I hear anything back from BTP/WH Smith.
Please, please follow this up with the BTP - and if you are still having issues with the Detective Sergeant, insist on speaking to his boss, the Detective Inspector.
I would also recommend making a complaint about the PCSO; they obviously need retraining and bloody quickly.
Should you have any further problems with them, message me and I will get some contact numbers/relevant names for you to speak to.
You definitely did the right thing, or rather a series of the right things; I can only apologise for the shoddy police response you received.
Wow, I think you did amazingly well. What a horrific thing to happen and what a shoddy response from the police.
Honestly? I'd be going to the press. I'd link this thread, send in your photos and go from there.
Yes - you are on the cctv film so are legally entitled to a copy AFAIK
Maddening on what basis? It would be completely unworkable if everyone who went in a supermarket/football stadium/theme park was entitled to the CCTV.
I take it back, I've just looked at the ICO page.
I second what wibbly says - go to the press. If the police continue to refuse to take adequate action, then I think it warrants media attention - his actions were clearly very concerning and I think it is of public interest that the police take such a relaxed attitude to an incident of this nature. What you're told them should be enough for them to at the very least check their databases for a match, and then keep the photos / footage on record if no match found.
It's ignoring this type of incident which allows the horrific incidents to happen.
You are legally entitled to a copy
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