British police hunting abductor of girl, six, advise parents to be ‘extra vigilant’

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Police in Greater Manchester have issued fresh photographs of a man they are hunting in connection with a child abduction, while urging parents to be “extra vigilant”.

Detectives believe a six-year-old girl was taken by a man into a wooded area and sexually assaulted in Droylsden, four miles east of Manchester city centre, on Wednesday afternoon just after 4pm.

The girl was reunited with her family shortly after being snatched, police said, but the search for her abductor has continued into Thursday evening.

Officers suspect the girl was taken in Warne Avenue and then into a wooded area near a disused railway track towards Manchester Road.

Related: Police hunt alleged abductor of 7-year-old girl in Greater Manchester

Talking to reporters at the scene on Thursday, Tameside detective superintendent Richard Hunt said: “What I can say, he’s obviously grabbed a child and what I would say to members of the public is that they need to be extra vigilant. A child was playing in this area and a chap who was hanging around has taken a child and thankfully within a few minutes we’ve got her back.

“Parents need to consider the circumstances of what I have mentioned and I would suggest they need to be extra vigilant with their children whilst we progress this as quickly as possible.”

Hunt said police believed the abduction began at a grassed area between Warne Avenue and Hawthorn Road in Droylsden at about 4pm.

“From this green area is a path leading to a football field, and that is between Heron Drive and Brendon Drive. We suspect that the offender walked with the child across this area where we believe he sexually assaulted her.

“The offender appears to have been hanging around the area prior to the offence and afterwards he made his way through the paths and streets of the Snipe estate possibly in the direction of Openshaw.

“You will have seen footage in the press and if you haven’t, can I please ask you to look at these images to try and identify the person.”

He urged members of the public to check CCTV, dashcam and doorbell footage for videos that might assist the investigation, but asked people not to speculate in social media posts.

He added: “Obviously we are keen to speak to this male, described in the footage. He is a white man, aged in his 20s, dark trousers, a dark jacket, which at one point was worn around his waist, and dark shoes or trainers, we can’t say for certain, with a white rim around the sole.”

He said extra police officers were patrolling the area but that it appeared to be an “isolated incident”.

In the first new image, a man is pictured a short time after reports of the abduction were first being made to police; the second is about 30 minutes after the incident where a man appears to be seen with his jacket around his waist on Gainsborough Road going towards the Snipe estate.

A 35-year-old man – not the man pictured – was arrested yesterday and interviewed before being released today, Thursday, with no further action taken.