Witness arrested in Surrey 'kidnap' investigation
Detectives found no evidence to support claim young boy had been bundled into a black VW van
A man who reported that a child had been abducted in Surrey last week has been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice after police found no evidence to support his account, reports the Surrey Mirror.
The man's claim, that a child had been bundled into a black VW Transporter van in Redhill on Thursday afternoon, prompted a huge police investigation and an appeal for witnesses shared by thousands of people on social media.
Officers handed out leaflets and held a press conference, where they told reporters they had no reason to doubt the witness.
But the force says it has since carried out "an extensive and thorough investigation" into the man's account and it has "not brought about any evidence to corroborate it".
Detective Superintendent Pete Fulton said: "The risk to life and safeguarding children are our first priorities when presented with a report like this which is why we took the course of action we did."
He added: "The witness has been re-interviewed at length about their account and at this stage and as a result of our enquires no further information has come to light to corroborate the report.
"There has been no report of any missing child in connection with the case and we have carried out extensive enquiries."
Mystery of boy 'abducted' in Surrey – but no report of missing child
Police are searching for a young boy who was reportedly abducted in a black Volkswagen van in Redhill, Surrey, just before rush hour yesterday.
A witness said the boy was fixing the chain on a bike at around 4.45pm when the van pulled up. He was bundled inside and the bike (pictured above) was left on the pavement.
Surrey Police said it has no reason to believe the witness was mistaken, but confirmed that no child matching the description has been reported missing.
"Superintendent Chris Edwards has said the boy was seen to be tampering with the chain of the bike before he was taken, but officers are not sure it is his," reports the Surrey Mirror.
The boy, thought to be around six or seven years old, was described as white and approximately 4ft tall. He was wearing a red T-shirt and navy blue jeans.
The van was said to be a VW Transporter with an 02 registration plate and an alloy wheel missing on the front nearside.
A CCTV still of a black van was released last night, but police have since traced the owner and ruled them out of the investigation.
A "large police operation involving a significant number of officers and other police resources has been taking place overnight to trace the van and to establish the identity of the child", said the force. Helicopters and police dogs are also taking part in the search.
It added that reports of this nature are "extremely rare".
"At this stage there has been no missing person report received in relation to a child but we continue to treat this incident seriously and will do so until the full circumstances have been established," it said.