Police probe report of man acting suspiciously near children

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Police are investigating a report of a man acting suspiciously around children near the Grange estate in Ballyclare at the weekend - the second such incident in the area in as many weeks.

A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that officers received a report shortly after 8pm on Sunday evening (August 25) that a man had been spotted by a group of children, loitering in bushes at Fairview Farm Road.

It’s understood the children ran off and told a parent, who then contacted the police.

According to local MLA, Alderman Paul Girvan, people in the estate were outraged after it took police “three hours to respond to the call” - something the PSNI disputes.

“Apparently when they did eventually turn up the officers didn’t know anything about the previous incident in the area, which is very worrying. These people felt that their previous complaint hadn’t been taken seriously, or that it hadn’t been dealt with properly as the officers should have known that there was an earlier issue where children had felt threatened,” the DUP man commented.

“People are understandably angry about why it took the police so long to respond to something like this and questions need to be asked about why it took so long,” the Policing and Community Safety Partnership representative said.

Responding to public concerns about the police response, a PSNI spokesperson said: “Officers attending the report toured the area extensively prior to and after calling with the reporting person at their home.”

The spokesperson denied that it took three hours for police to respond, but did admit that there was a delay of over an hour-and-a-half before officers got to the incident.

“Police regret there was a delay in arrival due to crews already being committed to various tasks, including a search for a missing person,” she continued.

“Enquiries into this report and a previous report of a suspicious approach to children in the Clareville area are ongoing and officers would encourage anyone who believes they have information that could assist to contact them on 0845 600 8000.”