SCHOOLCHILDREN have been warned to be extra vigilant after a fourth case of men following girls home has been reported in just over a week.
Last Friday, a male was arrested for the second time after police received reports of a man following girls in school uniform in the Nythe and Greenbridge areas.
The man has remained in police custody, and on Monday and Wednesday of this week girls have reported unrelated incidents, including one man asking a girl to get in his car.
A safety alert has now been circulated to all schools in the town from police while they investigate, and they are appealing for anyone who has seen any suspicious activity to contact them.
In particular they would like to speak to a man seen acting suspiciously outside Dorcan Academy on Wednesday afternoon, driving a silver or blue car.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “On July 7 a female school pupil was asked by a male if she wanted a lift home. She declined and the male left the area.
“On July 9 a male was seen outside a school in east Swindon acting suspiciously. He is described as a white male, in his 20s, wearing a pink or red top with black tracksuit bottoms.
“As a result of these incidents, patrols have been increased in the area and will continue until the end of the school term.
“It is not yet clear if these two incidents are linked. Officers are asking all school pupils, parents and teachers to remain vigilant and to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 if they see anything suspicious.”
Simon Neads, deputy headteacher at Dorcan Academy, said: “The main thing is making sure all our children are safe. We have the police in regularly and our community beat manager contacted me at about 10.30pm on Wednesday evening.
“If we have any suspicious activity reported we share it with the police immediately, and the message will then go out to all other schools in the town.
“It is not just our school that is warned, it is each one in the borough. We operate School Safe, which is a messaging system from police. Yesterday all children were spoken to regarding the safety messages, which will warn children of the dangers and advise them to be careful and vigilant. This is a regular procedure we follow and we work consistently with police.
“It is a two way process because we are also in a position to give them information. This matter comes under the School Safe procedure, so we have to make sure our children hear about it in our school, and the police will pass the message on to other schools.”
Mr Neads added any report made by pupils would be passed on immediately for police to investigate.
“The message is to be vigilant and not talk to strangers or get in any strange cars,” he said.
“It is a general safety message, but the one thing we can be sure of is that if our children see anything suspicious they will be straight in to talk to us about it.
“There have been a couple of these reports recently, and when you put out a warning message you do get lots of sightings after the event. We have to make sure we are not chasing shadows, because it could be perfectly innocent, but we pass that information on to police for them to look into. The important thing is children will tell us about it. Any concern is taken very seriously and referred to police.”