Police response praised after Primark kidnap
07 Jun 2016 12:45 PM[View Full Size]
Two teenage girls have pleaded guilty to the kidnap of a two-year-old child in Newcastle city centre.
At 4.55pm on Wednesday, April 13, police received a call from the manager of Primark in Northumberland Street informing us that a two-year-old girl had gone missing from the store.
Officers immediately responded and after checking CCTV from the store it was quickly established that the child had left the premises with two teenage girls who she did not know.
A full search operation was launched and an alert about the incident, including the description of the child and the two teenagers, was issued to all officers across the force area.
The alert was shared with city centre retail and security staff via the local ShopWatch scheme and travel networks - including bus companies and Nexus - were also informed.
Extra officers were immediately brought into the city centre to search for the girls and CCTV cameras in Northumberland Street, belonging to the local authority, Eldon Square and Nexus, were checked in quick time.
These cameras showed the girls and the child had walked up Northumberland Street and had got onto the Metro at Haymarket station.
At this point the search was widened as they could have travelled anywhere on the Metro line. Officers throughout the whole of the force area were put on alert and directed to try and find the children.
While searches and enquiries were ongoing officers based in North Tyneside recognised the description of the two teenage girls from the circulation.
Believing they knew who the girls might be and using their local knowledge and policing experience they passed their information onto the officer in charge of the search.
The officers suggested the girls may head to Gosforth Central Park, as they knew the suspects often hung around that area, and could have travelled their via the Metro.
Officers carried out a search of the area and at 6:01pm they spotted the two teenage girls and the child in Gosforth Park.
The girls, aged 13 and 14, were arrested and the child, who was not injured, was taken into safety and re-united with her mother.
A full investigation was then carried out and subsequent CCTV footage was found that showed the movements of the girls from leaving the Primark store.
They had left the premises and got on the Metro at Haymarket station in Newcastle centre before travelling to South Gosforth Metro station with the child.
They then went into the Sainsburys store in Gosforth and then Gosforth Park before being found by police.
The two girls were charged with kidnap and appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates' court on Tuesday, June 7, where they pleaded guilty. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Chief Superintendent Laura Young said: "To lose a child, or have a child taken from you in these circumstances, must be every parent's worst nightmare and this is a story which I'm sure will strike a chord with every parent across the country.
"I am just glad that we are in a position today where the child is safely back home with her mother and hopefully this awful incident can be put behind them and they can continue with their lives as normal.
"The fact that this is the case is down to the excellent work of our officers on that day and the support we received from partners and the public. I want to highlight and praise the policing and community response that led to the child being found safe.
"The moment that we were informed that the child had gone missing a swift and comprehensive policing operation was initiated.
"The safety of a lost child will always be a priority for the police but when there is a suggestion that a child may have been taken then it becomes even more imperative that we act quickly and that we do everything we can to find them.
"The quick thinking and immediate actions taken by the officers who attended the initial report meant we had details of the missing child along with the two girls circulated to lots of people very quickly.
"The help from the likes of local businesses in Northumberland street, Nexus, Newcastle City Council and Eldon Square allowed us to quickly identify a route that the children had taken and meant we had hundreds of extra eyes out on the ground looking for them.
"This joint effort was so important and the response from local businesses and our partners really highlights the ability of us all to come together in an emergency.
"The information that eventually led us to locating the girls in Gosforth Park came from two officers from the North Tyneside area. They had seen the bulletin and thinking they knew who the girls might be provided the officer in charge of the search with a possible location. This ultimately proved vital and directly led us to finding the missing child.
"Their help, local knowledge and quick thinking meant we were able to get the child back and re-unite her with her mother safe and well and I am so proud of the response from all of our officers as well as from our partners and the public.
"The two children charged with this offence clearly need a lot of help and support and we must now allow the justice system to do it's job and respect this process.
"What is far more important is that the child is now back safely with her family and that is down to the fantastic work of police, our partners and the public here in Newcastle."