Parents' concern following school walk attacksBy Tim Harris
February 07, 2013
PARENTS of children at a Farnborough school have been left worried and frightened after a stranger attacked several teenagers on their walk to school.
Several youngsters were assaulted by the unknown man as they walked to school in Cove on January 25.
Hampshire Police confirmed there were six incidents where a man approached teens and assaulted them during a half-hour period from 8.15am. Most of the victims are pupils at Cove School, in St John’s Road.
The force said the man targeted four girls and two boys, who were all aged 13 or 14, in the area near the school, which included Minley Road, Fernhill Road and Cove Road.
The attacks included slapping two of the youngsters in the face, punching one boy in the stomach, pushing two girls into a bush and swearing and verbally abusing his victims.
None of the teenagers sustained serious injuries.
Jo Winsall, who has children at both Cove School and Cove Junior School, said: “It is obviously a bit worrying knowing that there is somebody out there assaulting the kids.
“It was a bit close to home, I was quite shocked. It is worrying that this sort of thing is happening in the Cove area.” Another parent, who wished not to be named and has a son in Year 11 and a daughter in Year 8 at Cove School, added: “Of course I have safety concerns for the area. I was worried when I heard about the incidents, I was very concerned.
“It was a horrible thing to happen to these young people.”
One mother, who asked not to be named and has a son and a daughter at Cove School, said: “I was absolutely disgusted to hear about the incidents, it was quite a shock. It was very nasty and it should not have happened.
“I do have concerns about the safety of my own children. It makes me worry about going out at night and letting my children out at night. It is frightening for parents, it is really frightening.”
Parents agreed that Cove School and Hampshire Police handled the incident very well.
Megan Jones, headteacher at Cove School, had described the events as ‘extremely worrying’ and a ‘frightening situation’. She explained pupils have been advised to try to walk to and from school with others, or at least to keep in sight of others.
“If a child is approached, we have advised that they run and shout out and try to seek help at the nearest shop or friend’s house,” said Ms Jones.
The headteachers at both Cove Junior and Cove Infant School said they had taken appropriate safety measures at their schools.
Hampshire Police, which upped patrols in the area, described the attacker as a white man, aged in his 40s, of a large build and between 5ft 7ins and 6ft tall. He was wearing a black woolly hat and had ginger hair sticking out at the bottom. He was unshaven and may have had a ‘hooked’ nose.
He is thought to have had a local accent and was wearing a large blue raincoat, dark or tan coloured baggy trousers and black woolly gloves. He may also have been wearing a hooded top underneath his coat.
Police arrested a man in connection with the assaults but later released him without charge. PC Daniel Eaves said: “We are continuing to follow a number of lines of enquiry in relation to these incidents but would be keen to hear from anyone who has information which may assist this investigation. I would encourage schoolchildren to be vigilant when they are walking to and from school and to report anything suspicious to police as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Hampshire Police on 101, or call Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.