Police stepping up patrols in Hawthorn Drive after attempted abduction of eight-year-old boy

Stock image of the Hawthorn Drive shopping area in Ipswich.

Stock image of the Hawthorn Drive shopping area in Ipswich.

Police are stepping up patrols in the Chantry area of Ipswich after a man apparently tried to abduct an eight-year-old boy.

The youngster was walking back from the shops in Hawthorn Drive on Saturday morning when a stranger started following him, eventually walking alongside him.

The man tried to pick the boy up at the Kingfisher Avenue and Pheasant Road junction, but he kicked himself free and ran off. The child has been praised for managing to escape. The “very worrying” incident took place between 10.45am and 11am.

Officers last night pledged to step up patrols in the area in the foreseeable future and contact local schools. The man has not been found.

The nearby Oaks Community Primary School has given fresh advice over ‘stranger danger’ to its pupils as a result of the incident.

Ipswich mayor and Sprites ward councillor Roger Fern said: “Unfortunately there are some very unpleasant people about, and I am extremely sorry this has happened. Fortunately, the child had the sense to do what is required – you simply break free and either run home or run to someone you trust to ask for help.

“I am pleased parents and schools take these kind of situations serious and help their children to understand what they do when they are in danger, which clearly this child was.”

Penny Debnam, 37, manager of the Kingfisher pub in Hawthorn Drive, said: “This is the first I have heard of it and it is very worrying. I have got young children myself. They have just asked me if they can go to the shops and this is putting that on hold. They aren’t going anywhere now.”

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She said she would be checking their CCTV footage and informing police if they have the man captured on film.

The man was using a bottle bank near Coral bookmakers when he first said “hello” to the boy, police said.

The boy crossed the road and the man followed. He was walking alongside him past the Methodist church.

Police said: “On reaching the junction of Pheasant Road and Kingfisher Avenue, the man attempted to physically pick the boy up. However, he was able to kick himself loose and run away.”

The man is described as white, 5ft 7ins tall, and in his mid 30s with an English accent. He was wearing dark clothing and carrying a black rucksack with an orange stripe.

To help police, call 101, quoting crime number 37/12258/17.