Stranger touching DS in station store - v v long, but seeking reassurance that IWNBU

(139 Posts)
GertrudeSlojinski Sun 14-Jul-13 03:01:04

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.

welshfirsttimemummy Sun 14-Jul-13 03:09:15

YADNBU. His response to you was just chilling! He shouldn't touch your DS because he is YOUR DS and he clearly does not know him!shock

And you did protect him, you immediately challenged he man and contacted the police. smile

McGeeDiNozzo Sun 14-Jul-13 03:15:07

Absolutely not unreasonable.

If that happened to our DD we'd have been to the BTP's office with lightning speed too.

AgentZigzag Sun 14-Jul-13 03:16:17

YANBU to feel a bit shaken up, you were there and read the situation, if it wasn't creepy as fuck why would you have gone to so much trouble to not let it drop?

Although it's not nice your DS was in this, it's reassuring he froze and felt uncomfortable. That means he knew it wasn't right and didn't automatically comply, that's good IMO.

And you shouldn't feel guilty for following the man to take photos, you were doing it to stop the him from potentially doing anything to anyone else.

He might have been harmless and socially inept, but there are some who get an extra kick from doing whatever it is they're doing in plain sight.

There are tiny little nuances to a situation that you can read like a book. You maybe can't put your finger on exactly what it is, but you just know it doesn't add up.

The risk of ignoring those thoughts and brushing it off as 'he didn't actually do anything' is too much of a risk considering what the possible outcomes can be.

I don't give a monkeys how sad it might make other people to think society's going to the dogs because I'm suspicious of unusual behaviour around my children, you're there to protect your children, and today you did a bloody good job.

NatashaBee Sun 14-Jul-13 03:26:30

YANBU. I hope they track the guy down.

ravenAK Sun 14-Jul-13 03:27:31

What other posters have said - you acted entirely sensibly.

AgentZigzag is spot on about the nuances; the man may be entirely harmless &/or in need of support himself, but his behaviour & demeanour came across as threatening & triggered your instinctive alarm system - it's there for a reason & should be listened to.

Rummikub Sun 14-Jul-13 03:29:53

It's the why shouldn't I that chills me. Hope you and ds are ok.

CheungFun Sun 14-Jul-13 03:37:33

<shudders> that's sounds scary OP, I think anyone else would have reported the man and should have like you did. It's the 'why shouldn't I' it's so scornful and arrogant.

I hope you and your DS are ok.

When I first saw the title i thought maybe it was someone patting him on the head or something. I have had a few old men (60's/70's) pat DS on the head and one old man on the bus held his hand out to DS to hold hands with him, but all these occasions have been innocent, you just know if something is right or wrong.

MammaTJ Sun 14-Jul-13 04:36:36

Oh my goodness, that sounds awful.

I remember how scared I was when a man took my DD in to the bushes in our local gardens. I posted a thread on her about it. It was about a year ago and I am still shaken. I also challenged the man and his reaction was just 'off' too. I also contacted the police and they were wonderful. I was lucky though, in that this is a smallish town and he was local. The police assured me he meant no harm but I still think about it.

I do think the man in your case probably did mean harm though. I hope the police actually look at the CCTV.

harborhaze Sun 14-Jul-13 05:06:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think you reacted perfectly and you demonstrated to your son exactly how to react to such a strange situation. You loudly challenged him and contacted both store staff and the police. You protected your child from a scary situation for both of you.

GoodMorningMoon Sun 14-Jul-13 06:13:32

YADNU. How terrifying. ..I can only hope I'd be as brave as you in that situation.

Agree, you showed your son to stand up for himself and that you will protect him. Hope you're both alright x

Chottie Sun 14-Jul-13 06:23:37

Well done! you did the right thing and were really brave to challenge this man. His picture and details are on file now.

This is definitely spooky, who would just go and put their arm around anyone else's child?

May09Bump Sun 14-Jul-13 06:40:42

God that is chilling - well done for going to that extent to report him. Hope you and your son are OK.

I did a similar thing - my LO was not touched. We were playing near a playground in the park, when I noticed someone sneeking about in the bushes - it was a guy taking pictures of kids in the playground. Now it was hot and some kids were playing naked in the sprinklers, he saw that I had noticed him and he appeared to fix himself / zip up at the same time.

I reported him immediate to the park keepers and they called the police. The guy had disappeared. He reappeared later, again reported him.
I spoke to the police and they were aware of this "character" but had nothing on him. I followed it up to say did they look at cctv, did a visit etc . But said cctv had nothing - there were 8 cameras in the area ffs and no visit as I could not definitely say he was handling himself.

All I could do in the end was report it and speak to the parents in the park whose kids were naked (ideally nothing wrong with this - but I would want the option of covering up in light of above).

It is sickening, I couldn't hold my son close enough. So, know a little of how you are feeling. Make sure you have some hot sweet tea, as you will be in shock and probably be running on adrenaline.

People go on about being over the top about these predators and kids should still have freedom, but you hear about this and often are touched by it. I don't care - I'm keeping my kids as close as possible.

May09Bump Sun 14-Jul-13 06:41:38

Thanks for posting - we often go through this station, and I'll certainly be on higher alert

HokeyCokeyPigInAPokey Sun 14-Jul-13 06:50:12

Bloody hell, you must be so shaken up.

Well done for being having such presence of mind and not letting him walk off.

Me and my dd's are always in that station and in WHSmith, it's like our first stop for snacks.

Thank you for sharing i will be even more alert now.

ghosteditor Sun 14-Jul-13 07:08:08

Well done OP - sounds like you reacted rationally and appropriately despite your panic - and you absolutely did protect your DS.

Sounds like a man with severe social dysfunction, or on a power trip.

Hold your DS close today.

HooverFairy Sun 14-Jul-13 07:16:45

Definitely NBU, you did exactly the right thing, you acted on your instinct that something wasn't right. This man sounds like a creep. I hope you are both feeling better soon.

Burmobasher Sun 14-Jul-13 07:34:11

Yanbu, his reaction was all wrong when you challenged him. Well done op and I hope your ds is ok

AnneNonimous Sun 14-Jul-13 07:36:40

You were not at all unreasonable and acted in a much more well thought out manner than I would have! Well done for doing the right thing, and well done for showing your DS you will always do what you should to keep him safe.

How scary, I hope you and DS are both ok x

JambalayaCodfishPie Sun 14-Jul-13 07:40:01

Last year, a man tried to expose himself, masturbating, to my eight year old daughter. Luckily, I saw him first, and was able to manipulate the situation so she didn't notice a thing.

I was incredibly shaken up though, and after posting here, was told by another MNer what I am going to tell you.

You were a great Mum yesterday. You protected your child. You did your job.

katydid02 Sun 14-Jul-13 07:46:40

YWNBU. Well done for doing as you did and for taking the photos, now they are on file in case he tries anything else.
I hope that you are both OK.

Yanbu!!! It sounds perfect what you did, especially taking a picture of him, I don't think if have dared to do that, I would have been to scared of making a fuss but it sounds like exactly the right thing to do. I don't think you out DS at risk doing that, and it was worth doing.

Do you have a contact for the police who called you? I would chase it up and say you really do want it pursuing. It is horrible if they are suggesting you should have waited to find out what his intentions were. As if your evidence will only be of use when he gets arrested for doing something worse and you see it on the news sad
Can you be a bit firmer that you do think he was trying to lead your son away?

perplexedpirate Sun 14-Jul-13 08:00:22

Well done! Quick thinking and brave. Was this Manchester Victoria?

SteepApproach Sun 14-Jul-13 08:05:05

YANBU. Indeed, you wouldn't have been unreasonable to call 999 on the spot. If you can do that in stations, I'm not sure! I wouldn't have managed to think of the transport police myself.

You've said you previously talked to your son about "stranger danger" and what to do. I presume you reassured him it was ok to freeze? It's a completely normal reaction, adults do it too. However, you had the presence of mind to follow the man and take his picture. You did an unquestionably great job yesterday, both in protecting your son and, potentially, other children.

I hope you'll both be ok.

threesypeesy Sun 14-Jul-13 08:49:13

God thats horrible op. You done a fantastic job and reacting immediately and to have had such a clear head to go about things very quickly. Hope you and your ds are ok and the police find that creepy little man.

ZillionChocolate Sun 14-Jul-13 09:05:07

I don't think there was much danger in following him in a busy railway station. Well done for protecting your son.

ZillionChocolate Sun 14-Jul-13 09:05:59

I suppose the challenge now is not to make if a massive deal for DS.

kalidanger Sun 14-Jul-13 09:49:15

I'm terribly sorry but what does 'NT' mean?

MakeGlutenFreeHay Sun 14-Jul-13 09:56:16

NT = Neuro-typical.

hollyisalovelyname Sun 14-Jul-13 10:07:31

Reading your post, to me, YOU ARE A HERO. After your experience no doubt you were in shock. Well done for following through and going to the transport police, despite the silent intimidation you faced....evil triumphs because good people do nothing....
I hope you can explain to your son about the situation to allay any fears he may have, because of his age he won't understand why his mum got so upset. I'll say it again, You are a super mum.

manicinsomniac Sun 14-Jul-13 10:16:02

Why do you think you were BU? Because he appeared to have SN?

You did the right thing. If he is innocent and/or has SN then nothing will happen to him. If he did have sinister motives then you could have saved a child from an awful experience or worse.

tallulah Sun 14-Jul-13 10:22:53

What a horrible thing to happen. You did absolutely the right thing and I commend you for your presence of mind. I'd have just scurried away embarrassed I'm sure.

His behaviour sounds far too sneaky to be excused as not NT - continuing to browse the shelves while putting his arm round DS and pulling him towards him shows planning, not over friendliness/ not being aware of social cues.

I am a bit shock that the police don't seem to think it's important.

tigerlilygrr Sun 14-Jul-13 10:30:00

OP, from now on I will keep an even closer eye on my children in stations. That has to be a good thing. So on top of protecting your own child, you have prompted a little extra protection for mine. Thank you.

minouminou Sun 14-Jul-13 10:40:33

You have a photo of this creep, that's invaluable.
It might be an idea to circulate it to PCSOs as well as the regular police.

What a horrible experience. You acted like a total hero.

hermioneweasley Sun 14-Jul-13 10:47:10

Agree with others - I am so impressed with your clear thinking, and that you didn't back down when he tried to make out you were unreasonable.

ImNotBloody14 Sun 14-Jul-13 10:49:49

Christ that is terrifying!

Fwiw i think you acted in a very level headed way- im not sure i would have been so calm and sensible

theboutiquemummy Sun 14-Jul-13 10:52:01

Ooh how shocking for you my heart goes out to you and your DS YDNBU and well done for reporting it also
This man is a pedophile and his indignant reactions bear that out

Trust your instinct and don't let anyone tell you otherwise

I would also speak to your local police 101 and let them know what happened if only for reassurance

MadameJosephine Sun 14-Jul-13 10:59:57

Your post makes me feel sick just thinking about it and I am very impressed with the way you handled it. I think I would have probably either frozen in shock or exploded in rage, neither of which would have been ideal. Your actions protected not only your own child but others too if the police are looking out for him. Well done!

YouTheCat Sun 14-Jul-13 11:07:11

You did the right thing. How awful though.

scarletforya Sun 14-Jul-13 11:07:12


As well as protecting your ds, you have added to information the shop staff and transport police have. They now have his picture and modus operandi.

He was persistant coming back into the shop and very cocky. He sounds dangerous.

Well done OP, I'm sure you are pretty shaken but you did admirably! flowers

GingerBlondecat Sun 14-Jul-13 11:11:26

Good job, OP. Scary


odd question, what does NT mean??

forgetmenots Sun 14-Jul-13 11:23:27

Yadnbu - how scary shudder

Plomino Sun 14-Jul-13 11:25:12

You did exactly the right thing . In fact you did everything you could do , and then some. Those pictures may well prove invaluable as I have no doubt they will go onto a briefing , and be seen potentially metwide , because it may not be the only station he frequents . You may have helped not only one child , but countless others .

So well done !

VashtaNerada Sun 14-Jul-13 11:26:56

If this was London Victoria I would drop a quick e-mail to the met as well as BTP (Warwick SNT I think)

Mumsyblouse Sun 14-Jul-13 11:30:09

There is no way that this person's actions can be harmless because you don't go around putting your arms around other people's children you have never seen before in public places. There cannot be a good reason for that- and his reaction when challenged 'why shouldn't I?' tells you all you need to know about how he sees children. You were ace and very protective and I'm glad you took a picture of him and reported him (he was lucky you didn't hit him).

VashtaNerada Sun 14-Jul-13 11:31:09

That's Safer Neighbourhoods Team (community police)

GertrudeSlojinski Sun 14-Jul-13 12:31:08

Thanks everyone. It happened in the large WH Smith at London Victoria station. I think I just had to type it out to realise I wasn't being unreasonable as I managed to fall asleep before reading any responses! I will follow it up with the BTP if I can. DS appears to be fine today - no mention of the "naughty stranger".

YummyYummyYum Sun 14-Jul-13 16:43:13

I am so glad you protected your boy. When I was 9 years old I was allowed to take the bus from school to home alone. One man touched my leg and because I was sitting by the window and looking outside I thought it was by mistake and then he tried to touch my hand. I froze and looked at the man. He was masturbating. I said: excuse me and went to a different seat. I was ashamed of saying anything.

Backpaw Sun 14-Jul-13 16:50:44

Good for you for taking a picture!

A man tried to lure a small child away at the babies and toddlers group where I work. He just walked in off the street. The mums saw him off but my first thought was 'why didn't someone whip out their phone and snap him?'.

My second thought was 'why didn't they rugby-tackle him and sit on him until the police arrived?'.

pigletmania Sun 14-Jul-13 17:20:19

Yanbu you did the right thing. You dont know this man, and what his intentions were, they might have been fine, but might have been much more sinister. Watched the Moores murder documentary on replay last night, and it chilled me to the core. No well done op, you could save a child's life and your ds. He had a total disregard for you and your ds, instead of apologising and trying to explain, his reaction was quite shocking

pigletmania Sun 14-Jul-13 17:22:13

Scary as you said it looked as though he was going to be led away. That itself is shocking, you saved your ds life

thebody Sun 14-Jul-13 17:27:48

well done you. how bloody scary. I bet you wanted to kill him but instead did the right thing.

hope you and ds are ok.

Finola1step Sun 14-Jul-13 17:31:40

Can I just add my admiration OP. what you did was spot on. Please do pursue it through BTP.

pigletmania Sun 14-Jul-13 17:36:24

Yes especially as you said he was back again in the chi,dress section of Smiths, probably trying to find another child. Yes please do pursue it with the police

SlimePrincess Sun 14-Jul-13 17:40:04

Bloody well done flowers

pigletmania Sun 14-Jul-13 17:46:35

Op he sounds completely cognis mentis, his responses were chilling, he knew exactly what he was doing.

daisychain01 Sun 14-Jul-13 17:52:18

Thank goodness for people like you! You were brave and quick-thinking during a shocking ordeal. Plus you have officially alerted the authorities to a potentially dangerous person in a busy public place. You never put a foot wrong. Wow!! Xxx

Fuck, if he had decided he was going to lure a child away today, and failed with your son, that meant his return to the children's section of the store was to go preying again. shock OP you did absolutely the right thing and did NOT overreact. Thank you for posting this - it has reminded me to be more vigilant. My DS is 2 but wants to be independent so sometimes I do leave some distance as he does some things, whilst keeping an eye on him of course, but in a busy place it could take seconds to lose sight of him.

Glad you and your DS are ok, anyway. You are amazing for responding so efficiently.

pigletmania Sun 14-Jul-13 17:54:59

Definitely have dev wearing a backpack thingy in public because of stuff like this

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Sun 14-Jul-13 18:02:43

I would hope to have your presence of mind. I don't think you over-reacted at all (and I am rather shocked at the Police response so far). This is one of my major dreads, when out alone with all my children.

SisterMonicaJoan Sun 14-Jul-13 18:10:41

You were amazing OP, such quick thinking.

His reply was absolutely chilling. And I shudder just thinking of him going back into the store..

VivaLeBeaver Sun 14-Jul-13 18:18:56

I think your actions were great.

Don't be surprised by your 4yo freezing.

A man took dd by the hand in ikea when she was 12yo and started leading her away from me. She froze rather than scream for me (I was distracted and hadn't noticed at this point). Bloke starts tugging at her and then he realised she wasn't his dd and was totally mortified. But I was surprised dd didn't start hollering.

RoxyFox211 Sun 14-Jul-13 18:19:02

Yanbu! Hope they are doing enough to catch this man.

PatsyAndEddy Sun 14-Jul-13 18:41:51

Oh my this is horrifying

I actually feel like crying reading this. You did so well OP.

faulkernegger Sun 14-Jul-13 19:21:08

DNBU. Make your DS practise shouting out loud. I've told both my dcs to make as much noise as possible if anything untoward happens. Well done for your presence of mind! flowers

cocolepew Sun 14-Jul-13 19:24:58

You definitely did the right thing, horrifying.

I remember walking through a shopping centre with DD1. I was holding her hand and a man walking towards us out his arm and ran his hand through her hair as he passed, he looked forwards the whole time. Me and DH looked at each other in shock but the time we turned around we had lost him. It might not seem much but it was so creepy and I remember it vividly 12 years later.

MadBusLady Sun 14-Jul-13 19:33:51

You did everything right. What a horrible experience. I am regularly in that Smiths, I shall keep an eye out!

Canidae Sun 14-Jul-13 19:43:03

I was prepared to read an AIBU about someone touching a PFB's hand or head while chatting but after reading this I say YANBU and well done for acting like you did. What he said to you was chilling and I hope you and your son are ok.

GertrudeSlojinski Mon 15-Jul-13 11:29:17

I realised that the person who took my statement had asked me to send the photos to a gmail address. I don't know why I hadn't picked up on this being rather odd at the time.

I just called the British Transport Police to follow up on what happened on Saturday, and spoke to a call handler. It turns out that the person who took my statement and to whom I sent the photos was a PCSO. The BTP call handler could not explain why the PCSO had given me a gmail address. I asked whether they had received the photos I took. Turns out they hadn't - all they had were some CCTV photos of outside the WH Smith (didn't say whether the man could be seen in them or not). Even worse, the person who had called me back on Saturday evening half an hour after I gave my statement categorically said in their report that I had said there was no negative intent behind the man's behaviour. The BTP call handler I spoke to on the phone this morning said that, on the face of it, "it looked like a fairly black-and-white" incident and there was nothing in there about what the man had said to me when I challenged him, or the fact that he had come back into the store, had stared at me and DS whilst in the shop and at the ticket barriers etc.

I had to stop him there in floods of (angry) tears. Apparently, they are going to get someone more senior to call me back. I have sent the photos on again (this time to a verified BTP email address).

I have stopped crying and now I am just angry. The last time I filed an incident with the police was when I was assaulted on a bus at 5/6 months pregnant (I had a verbal altercation with some kids who then deliberately tried to push me down the stairs of the top deck of the bus). The police indicated they were not interested in pursuing it until it came out in our conversation that I was pregnant (the officer asked if I was "visibly" pregnant - it would appear that could put a different slant to things hmm). Nothing came of that either. They did not bother requesting CCTV from the bus company. I told them that those children were likely to take the same bus at the same time the following day, but they made it clear they were not going to bother checking. After that, I never followed it up with the police but I kept thinking that those 'children' were likely to believe they had gotten away with what they did, making it all the more likely that they would do the same (if not worse) to someone else.

That previous experience makes me think that I don't want to go over Saturday's incident yet again when it looks more and more likely that nothing will come of it. If it had just happened to me, I don't think I would have bothered making a call to the BTP to follow it up. However, the fact that my son was involved makes me want to act otherwise. Please do feel free to tell me if I'm being melodramatic here - I promise not to take offence. On the one hand, I don't want to dwell on it unnecessarily and/or waste police time (after all, they probably have more pressing immediate emergencies to deal with) but I'm finding it hard to stop with the 'what if's - all I keep thinking is, what if he does this to someone else's child? What if, next time, his behaviour escalates?

tigerlilygrr Mon 15-Jul-13 11:34:12

OP, please do pursue this even if your experience so far has been far below the standards I would expect of police. I'm not saying they should march in and arrest him but surely they should take an accurate statement with your photos and file it. Please try again, you can see from the thread how many of us would be very unnerved by this incident (and how grateful we are to people like you who have the presence of mind to take a stand). I know it's an unpleasant incident you would rather forget but I think that will be easier for you once you know that the matter has been dealt with properly.

pigletmania Mon 15-Jul-13 11:43:48

I am shocked at how appealingly you were treated by th police. I certainly would have been their fault if te man had gone back to Smiths and abducted a child. No you have to do something. Call 101, or 999, the BTP sound as useful ad a chocolate teapot. Think Ames Bulger, April Jones it could easily happen, the complacency of th Police is shocking

SisterMonicaJoan Mon 15-Jul-13 12:07:13

You are not being melodramatic OP and I'm sorry to hear of your previous experience of both the incident itself and the police response.

You sound like such a strong, caring person and hard as it is, I think you will regret it if you did not follow this through. Like you said, what if he does this again or esclates?

I'm shocked the police have reacted like this.

MrsWilliamBodie Mon 15-Jul-13 12:09:17

You are not being melodramatic.

You are wonderful flowers

PeppermintPasty Mon 15-Jul-13 12:13:11

You are definitely NOT being melodramatic. You are right to keep on pursuing this. Please do, you are doing great.

SixPackWellies Mon 15-Jul-13 12:50:48

You are not being melodramatic. You are RIGHT to pursue this.

Jan49 Mon 15-Jul-13 13:14:20

OP, I think you did amazingly well and you're not being melodramatic. Reading your post sends chills down my spine.

It sounds like the police are trying to treat it as nothing, like a man just touched your ds's shoulder in passing, no big deal. But that's not what it was at all from your description. I'm not sure why but what struck me reading this is that the man was testing to see what he could get away with, as in could he walk away with a child. Then one time he'll do it and it won't be a test.sad I do hope the police take this more seriously and try to find him.

mummytime Mon 15-Jul-13 13:43:49

You are not being melodramatic. Unfortunately some police are much better than others.

I grew up in London and then lived in Birmingham for a while and actually was surprised at how great Surrey police are when I moved here. However it does sound as if you have got through to someone who is listening properly at last with BTP.

chicaguapa Mon 15-Jul-13 13:53:08

YANBU. Keep going as that man is still preying on other children and is a threat to them.

It sent shivers down my spine too! Your poor DS having a horrible stranger touch him and making him freeze with fear!

hernow Mon 15-Jul-13 14:00:57

OP, Gertrudelojinski", you are amazing. So many of us would doubt ourselves and end up leaving it. Pursue. Don't drop it. On behalf of your DS and others please don't drop. I am so sorry that you find yourself in this situation. I cannot believe all that has happened and it goes to show as *mummytime said it is a sad fact that some police are much better than others. If there is one thing I know it's that MNetters will be here anytime you want to talk and thank you for all you have already done. Without mums like you we would be in an even sorrier state. Plus it has given me courage that if ever I was to be so unfortunate I could do as you have done.

Hope this does not go on and on for you. You have done the right thing.

Empress77 Mon 15-Jul-13 14:11:37

OP your post literally brought me tears, heartbreaking to think of being in that situation, how awful for you and ds. You were amazing to take a photo, I dont think id have thought of that id have been so panicked. Definietly persue it, its sounds really creepy. Well done for protecting your ds so well.

Mhysa Mon 15-Jul-13 14:20:09

" 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."
Not at all, your one brave Lady! Well done you, hopefully BTP will be on alert and hopefully the creep will be aware of that.

I had an similar insedent on a London bus this guy (looked homeless and on something) chased me and DD all around a almost empty bus, and tried to grab her (she was 7 at the time) luckily the bus driver looked us in his cab and wouldn't let him off the bus untill the police came, but the scum was just charged with public disorder as his intentions couldn't be proved, the wpc said, when someone is on some thing, that can be there defence hmm it still scares me to this day.

If it hadn't been for the bus driver, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to do as you did OP, you should be proud of yourself and you DS! And DD recalls nothing of the insedent (6 years ago now) so just re inforce stranger danger to your DS and tell him he did right freezing and I'm sure he will come away from this knowing his Mummy is there to protect him and feels safe for it x

edam Mon 15-Jul-13 14:22:27

Gertrude, you did the right thing and I'm so glad you've been persistent with the BTP. Really odd the PCSO giving you a gmail address - wtf?

wharrgarbl Mon 15-Jul-13 15:04:38

Definitely not being melodramatic - there is something wrong with this man, and I really think he was looking for targets, from what you described.
The police bloody well should be taking this seriously.

theboutiquemummy Mon 15-Jul-13 15:36:52

Firstly fantastic that you called back n you have stuck to your guns

Secondly I'd be tempted to complain if they don't follow this up

Good luck we are all rooting for you if you need any help just ask someone's bound to know x

Rootatoot Mon 15-Jul-13 15:42:08

OP you were v brave and level headed in your reactions. Not in the least melodramatic. The kind of thing that most of us would not compute at the time but would have thought about later and wished we'd reacted as you did.

Keep AT THE POLICE to do something. We're behind you. You have good evidence.

Did you give the manager of WHSMith a picture of the guy? I think that would be worth doing so staff could keep a look out for him.

I had an incident many years ago which I still wonder about. I was 19 and a student. A weird guy approached me in the street and tried to 'lure' me to a location round near the river, to do some 'modelling'. He had bad teeth and was scruffy. Not the kind of guy to be doing promos. I reported it to the police station. Woman behind counter totally dismissive but her Sgt came over, and took it more seriously, when they said there had been no 'events' at all in that area in the last few days. The guy was def up to no good, just hope he didn't ever succeed in doing anything bad.

Solari Mon 15-Jul-13 15:58:25

I know part of your worry is that you feel you perhaps risked further danger to take a photo of the man involved.

Can I just say, as a parent myself of a small child, that I am deeply grateful to people like you who, despite your own fear, think of the bigger picture, and of other children who may be at risk. I have every admiration for your actions, and hope you feel much better now. flowers

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 16:05:20

What a good job you called again . Do WHSmith have cctv inside ? You're definitely doing the right thing by persisting.

SarahAndFuck Mon 15-Jul-13 16:08:17

You did absolutely the right things.

It's shocking that they don't seem to be reacting to this with as much concern as it needs.

hollyisalovelyname Mon 15-Jul-13 16:09:18

Gertrude I shall repeat what I wrote yesterday to you. You are a hero. Don't give up.....Evil triumphs because good people do nothing.

Rootatoot Mon 15-Jul-13 16:15:21

DH thinks you should just tweet or facebook the guy's picture. Not sure I agree entirely as that could give rise to vigilantism (is that the correct sp?) but I am tempted to tweet a link to this thread. If people understand there is that risk, then they could be more vigilant.

BridgetBidet Mon 15-Jul-13 16:51:01

My God you were amazingly brave and had fantastic presence of mind to behave as you did.

It makes me so angry the BTP are not following him up and identifying him. Even if he is just given a stern talking to now at least he would be identified and on their books should the worst happen and a child did disappear. I'm absolutely furious they're not following this up.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Mon 15-Jul-13 17:00:32

Yanbu at all. Well done for being so pro active. I am really impressed by the way you handled the situation. I hope the police collar him before he commits a crime.

rundontwalk Mon 15-Jul-13 17:12:02

You are a brilliant mum,firstly for your initial response & secondly for not letting it drop.

Your post made my stomach drop-it was chilling. This man is clearly a danger.

Thank you for what you've already done & huge hugs (I don't care if there not mumsnetty) it must have been terrifying.

rundontwalk Mon 15-Jul-13 17:12:31

They're not there.

GingerBlondecat Mon 15-Jul-13 17:31:53

(((((((((((((((Hugs ))))))))))))))


if you get no where with the higher up police department, a word to the Media would get things moving.

Please persist, even tho it hurts [sad]

DelayedActionMouseMaker Mon 15-Jul-13 17:56:59

You are not being melodramatic, it sounds as though your report was totally mishandled. Do peruse it, next time a parent may be more distracted or feeling unwell or in the middle of an argument or phone all and not be a vigilant...the consequences could be awful.

DelayedActionMouseMaker Mon 15-Jul-13 17:57:31

Pursue it. Bloody ipad!

Yonihadtoask Mon 15-Jul-13 17:58:20

Gosh OP. What a dreadful thing to happen.

I hope you and your DS are not too shaken up by this.

Am disappointed with the is lack of interest by the police. Surely this should be followed up?

Stay strong.

GertrudeSlojinski Mon 15-Jul-13 20:50:52

I got a call back from a Detective Sergeant. It turns out:
- My pictures were definitely not logged, nor the details about what he said to me and his subsequent actions i.e. returning to the store, staring me and DS down etc;
- They had not requested CCTV from WH Smith;
- They had not warned or informed the staff in WH Smith about what happened;
- They don't believe the incident warrants circulating the man's picture nationwide (which I had never asked for in the first place hmm, and totally neglecting the fact they had not even bothered to pass it on to the WH Smith staff);

The Detective, despite trying so hard to appear to make the right noises (eg "I understand it must have been distressing", "his behaviour does sound strange", "we all get protective when it comes to our children" etc etc), finally lost me when he said it did not appear to be an "assault assault". Without trying to be too sarcastic and make a muchness of having studied criminal law in the distant and not-so-distant past, I explained to him that the man had put myself and DS in fear for our immediate safety/of harmful contact, had unlawfully touched my son and I believed his actions to be intentional, deliberate and manipulative, regardless of whether he was NT or not, so if the Detective felt so inclined, he had enough to go on to potentially pursue the man for assault AND battery. At that point, I realised that my anger made it likely that I would say something I could later regret, and I ended the conversation saying that I had given them more than enough information to go on, wanted the report to be amended to reflect what had happened, wanted them to request CCTV from WH Smith, and would not object to them contacting me in the future should anything come of it or if they needed me to make an identification.

I can safely say that my faith in the police has not been restored.

Please don't get offended if I don't respond to any further posts tonight. My sleeping patterns have been atrocious for several years, but having had a few hours' of restless sleep the night of the incident, and half an hour's sleep last night, I'm definitely going to attempt to do better tonight.

And, in case a certain family member is reading this (I'm well aware you're also a MNetter and probably know about this thread, either through reading it yourself or through friends who recognise the details from a certain social network), thank you for suggesting that I "should have been watching DS". Next time, I'll make sure I'm standing on top of DS ... (as opposed to right next to him with my eyes on him hmm)

Will be namechanging at some point, but thanks to everyone for your kind words and support.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Mon 15-Jul-13 20:56:15

Gertrude Really sorry to hear it, and sorry you have such an unsupportive dick in your family. I can honestly say that all sorts of things went through my head when reading your OP - mostly revulsion and sympathy for you and your poor DS - but... "Should have been watching him"? No.

maddening Mon 15-Jul-13 21:07:32

really what the police should be doing is checking that this person isn't already known to them (eg sex offenders register in which case a potential attempted abduction if he were a known sex offender or approaching a child in such a manner might breach existing orders etc)and maybe alerting the shops in surrounding areas to keep an eye out for him - it isn't a case of wanting him arrested as obviously it is just "suspicions" thank goodness - but they should be checking that nothing sinister is going on there !

Mhysa Mon 15-Jul-13 21:10:37

Your family member should hang there head in shame shock
OP, your one brave lady and a great Mum who protected your DS AND possibly other children.

Am angry at the police, but not surprised tbh (see my post upthread] the man who tried to grab my DD was like a crazed animal, there was no mistaking the lunges and grabbing, but I certainly didn't feel justice had been done sad but you OP, did all you possible could and should be very proud of yourself thanks

Rest in the knowledge that your DS knows he has you to keep him safe and hopefully, like my DD, will not remember the incident x

Yonionekanobe Mon 15-Jul-13 21:20:07

OP, as someone who regularly uses Victoria (daily alone and weekly with DC) - THANK YOU thanks

And I hope your family realises how ridiculous and crass they are being.

Jux Mon 15-Jul-13 22:04:16

Well done, op. YANBU, and I'm a bit shock the police are acting like it was nothing.

To your family, how do you think Gertrude could give such a complete description of what happened if she hadn't had her eyes on her ds? You are being pretty silly. IMO.

edam Mon 15-Jul-13 23:06:58

I'm saddened by the police response. Seems to be 'stop asking us to do our job'. Pathetic.

Horsemad Tue 16-Jul-13 00:00:25

OP, you are amazing

You were so calm and dealt with the situation really well. And now you are continuing the good work by insisting the police take your complaint seriously.

Your DS is a lucky boy to have you for his mum.

Jan49 Tue 16-Jul-13 00:09:17

It sounds like the police aren't interesting in dealing with it because the man hasn't actually committed a crime yet. If a child was abducted, lots of resources would be used to try to find him/her, but a few resources used now might stop that man from becoming an abductor.angry

BrianTheMole Tue 16-Jul-13 00:18:02

No, do not let this drop. That man will without a doubt do it again and the consequences could be tragic. Raise a complaint with the police and demand they take it further. I'd get on to your Mp if you get no joy with the police.

StillInBigKnickers Tue 16-Jul-13 00:33:34

Holy crap OP just read this.
- hell yes you are reasonable to ensure the safety of your child!
Thank you for reporting this - I live nowhere near but the fact that you have made a small difference in keeping other children safe is appreciated. I hope that comes across as genuinely as I intend it, well past bedtime!

SingingSands Tue 16-Jul-13 00:48:17

Well done OP, this is a frightening story and you have done everything right. And next time it could be one of our children, at the same station or another. At the very least you would hope that his picture was circulated to all the retailers at the station, but from what you've said of the police I doubt it. I would be tempted to email his photo and description of his actions myself to each retailer.

Mammyisthegirl Tue 16-Jul-13 01:33:14

Not even remotely unreasonable! In fact, good one for keeping your head and getting a photo of him! Very, very creepy behaviour on his part.

MorganMummy Tue 16-Jul-13 01:55:30

Thank you for your bravery and level-headedness.

GingerBlondecat Tue 16-Jul-13 05:01:51

I still do not know what NT stands for ?? Please? Anyone ??

(((((((((((((((Hugs)))))))))))))) OP. flowers

Time to ramp up Media is the next stop.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 16-Jul-13 05:24:25

NT = neuro typical (no special needs)

GingerBlondecat Tue 16-Jul-13 05:27:49

OK, Thanks smile

pigletmania Tue 16-Jul-13 08:29:00

Edam exactly, they don't want to be bothered doing their job angry. What are they there fore than, wearing a nice uniform and looking pretty hmm.

beginnings Tue 16-Jul-13 08:38:01

OP, you are brilliant, thank you. flowers

The response from the police is astoundingly awful. I would be contacting my MP and the IPCC today if I were you. Just send them your posts from this thread, no other explanation is needed.

As for your family member, just shock

PurpleRayne Tue 16-Jul-13 08:51:40

I'd blog this. And let it hit the social media.

Oh bloody hell, late to this thread and I am gobsmacked at the police response! Did they offer any suggestion as to why anyone with non malicious intent would have replied with "why shouldn't I" when asked why they were attempting to pull someone's child close to their body?? I mean the fact that he stayed silent for so long before answering you means he had every chance to concoct a plausible excuse of he had chosen to, his actual response is brazen!
I wonder if it would be worth tweeting this thread and tagging BTP and any other relevant parties. The woeful way this has been handled needs to be highlighted. I won't tweet unless you come back with the OK OP.

twinklyfingers Tue 16-Jul-13 09:40:32

Gertrude I just wanted to say thank you to you for writing about this here. I think you acted intelligently and sensibly to protect your son. I don't think it would have occurred to me to take photos and I may even have been too shocked and confused to report it. Having read your response, I hope, if I am ever unfortunate enough for something similar to happen to my dc, that I remember your actions and act accordingly.

Your account of the incident and the police response gave me goosebumps. I hope the police do persue it, he sounds like a potentially very dangerous man and I am surprised and disappointed that the police don't want to recognise how the behaviour he displayed could so easily escalate. If the police choose not to persue, I hope you can rest assured that you did all you could. You protected your son and gave the police the evidence.

minouminou Tue 16-Jul-13 09:43:39

Family're a callous tosser.
Your answer to OP just tells us that you are too self-absorbed, weak and cowardly to accept that freaks like this guy exist and need to be dealt with, and so you fall to the default position of victim blaming.

Shame on you.

Rootatoot Tue 16-Jul-13 10:07:27

I second what Brian said and Beginnings

"No, do not let this drop. That man will without a doubt do it again and the consequences could be tragic. Raise a complaint with the police and demand they take it further. I'd get on to your Mp if you get no joy with the police."

minouminou Tue 16-Jul-13 10:08:26

I third ^.

Pyrrah Tue 16-Jul-13 10:15:16

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.

SixPackWellies Tue 16-Jul-13 11:27:51

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.

You numpty.

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.

quoteunquote Tue 16-Jul-13 12:24:58

OP, you are brilliant, and I hope they identify this guy.

cumfy Tue 16-Jul-13 15:40:41

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.

GertrudeSlojinski Tue 16-Jul-13 23:49:23

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.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Wed 17-Jul-13 00:40:59

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.

maddening Wed 17-Jul-13 06:01:38

Yes - you are on the cctv film so are legally entitled to a copy AFAIK

ZillionChocolate Wed 17-Jul-13 07:49:26

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.

ZillionChocolate Wed 17-Jul-13 07:51:24

I take it back, I've just looked at the ICO page.

HoratiaNelson Wed 17-Jul-13 13:31:16

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.

maddening Wed 17-Jul-13 15:09:20

You are legally entitled to a copy

GingerBlondecat Mon 22-Jul-13 09:13:52

Any Updates ? Please ?

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