Clergy raise parents’ concerns with police

SENIOR police officers have given Rathcoole clergy and community representatives assurances that they are doing everything possible to track down the man/men responsible for making suspicious approaches to children in the area over the past few weeks.

There have been incidents reported in Rathcoole, Fernagh, Rathfern and Queens Park since the beginning of the month, sparking fears among parents about possible child abductions.

Members of Rathcoole Churches Community Group, along with several other community representatives, met with senior police officers at the Dunanney Centre on Monday (October 15) to discuss the issue and highlight people’s concerns about child safety.

During the meeting, Chief Inspector Stephen Reid gave assurances that his officers are taking the issue extremely seriously. He said CID have been making comprehensive enquiries and police officers have increased the frequency of their patrols, particularly in the vicinity of schools and youth clubs.

The meeting was informed that direct contact has also been made with schools in the area to offer advice and guidance to parents and children.

The Area Commander stressed that suspicious approaches to children are very rare, but said it is important for children and parents to be aware of the possible dangers, without being frightened.

Speaking after the meeting, Pat Hutchinson, Chair of the Dunanney Centre, commented: “We are encouraged that local officers are giving this issue the resources and focus needed.

“Community representatives agreed to use their contacts within the local community to distribute guidance information to parents and children, and reassure families that the police are proactively responding to concerns.”

Phil Hamilton, Chairman of Rathcoole Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership, was among those who attended Monday’s meeting. He believes that a public meeting should be arranged to allow parents to discuss their concerns directly with the police.

“A lot of people in the local community are very disappointed that a public meeting hasn’t been arranged to discuss what’s going on. People want to talk about this and hear the facts directly from the police. The failure to organise a public meeting has left a void where rumours will circulate. Parents just want to know the facts about what’s actually going on,” the father-of-two said.