'Spanish man' asks Worthing boy to get into van on his way to primary school

Elm Grove Primary School in Elm Grove, Worthing. Picture: Google
Elm Grove Primary School in Elm Grove, Worthing. Picture: Google

Police and a Worthing primary school have warned parents to stay vigilant after a boy was approached by a stranger in a van who was described as Spanish.

Sussex Police said they were contacted by school staff from Elm Grove Primary School in Worthing on Friday, November 23, after a pupil reported being approached by the driver of a van as he was on his way to school.

The man, who police said was in what was similar to a Citroen Berlingo van, stopped to let the boy cross with his bicycle at the junction of Ripley Road and Reigate Road just before 8.45am. He suggested to the boy that he lock up his bicycle and jump in for a lift.

A police spokesman said: "The boy was not harmed and did the right thing by leaving quickly and reporting the incident when he got to school."

They boy described the man as white, tanned, aged 20-30, with short, dark hair and speaking with a Spanish accent, police said.

Police increased high visibility patrols in the area in response to what happened.

At the quest of police, Elm Grove Primary School emailed all parents asking them to be vigilant in light of the incident.

According to the email, teachers would be talking to pupils about keeping them safe using a new programme called Clever Never Goes, designed to replace the 'stranger danger' model which the programme's website said instills fear and mistrust in children.

For more details about the programme and how it could help your child, go to http://clevernevergoes.org/.

The staff member who sent the email to parents confirmed the incident happened to the Herald, but would not comment further.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to report online at https://sussex.police.uk/appealresponse or call 101 quoting serial 266 of 23/11.