Man charged with impersonating a police officer after schoolgirl has 'clothes searched'

16 October 2021, 22:46 | Updated: 16 October 2021, 23:13

Sussex Police has charged a man on suspicion of kidnap and impersonating an officer.
Sussex Police has charged a man on suspicion of kidnap and impersonating an officer. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A man has been charged with kidnap and impersonating a police officer after a teenage girl was stopped on her way to school and had her "clothes searched".

David Peter Young, 32, of Garton Close, Ifield, Crawley, has been charged by Sussex Police after a schoolgirl was approached by a stranger in the Three Bridges area of Crawley on Wednesday.

The incident happened just after 8am, when the 14-year-old girl was stopped by a man wearing a yellow hi-viz jacket on her way to school.

Police said he took her to an adjacent area off the road and searched her clothing before cycling away.

Police said the girl is safe and unharmed and is receiving support.

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Young was arrested and has been charged with kidnap with intent to commit a relevant sexual offence, kidnap, impersonating a police officer and two breaches of a sexual harm prevention order.

Superintendent Marc Clothier, from Sussex Police, said more uniformed officers will be patrolling the area following the incident, but said there is "no current risk to anyone in the community".

He said: "We want to reassure people we have not received any similar reports at this time and there is no current risk to anyone in the community in relation to this case.

“You will see more uniformed patrols in the area and we encourage you to stop and talk to us if you have any concerns."

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, quoting Operation Lonsdale.

“If you do see any behaviour that causes you concern, please always call 999 right away," the Supt advised.

"We understand some people may want additional reassurance when interacting with a lone police officer and when you are alone. If this is the case, genuine officers can use their police radio on loud speaker to talk to the operator in the police control room.

"The operator can confirm the identity of the officer, that they are on duty and carrying out legitimate policing business.

"You can also ask a passer-by to observe. Off-duty officers intervening in a crime in action or where someone is vulnerable, and not carrying a radio, will quickly call 999 for back up.”

The additional checks to verify an officer's identity have been introduced following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, who was a serving police officer when he abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in south west London.

Couzens abused his powers as a policeman to falsely arrest Ms Everard, a marketing executive who was walking home in Clapham, back in March.

He received a life-sentence for her murder and will die behind bars.