Men in car stop unaccompanied eight-year-old boy in Chandler Street

LW advises parents to keep an eye out for their children after two men in a car stopped an eight-year-old unaccompanied boy in Wapping.

The incident happened in Chandler Street at around 5.15pm on Saturday afternoon as the boy was walking from Reardon Street towards Wapping Lane.

Chandler Street viewed from Wapping Lane towards Reardon Street.
Chandler Street viewed from Wapping Lane towards Reardon Street.

The car stopped next to the boy who turned around to look at the car but kept on walking. The car then followed the boy and stopped again. The driver said, “Where are you from bro?”

Straight talking kid

To his credit, the eight-year-old replied “It’s none of your bloody business!” at which the car driver and passenger laughed and drove off towards Wapping Lane.

Description of vehicle and suspects

The car is described as being a black Ford. The two men in the car are described as being of Asian appearance in their twenties and both were wearing black jackets.

The boy’s mother rang 101 and after holding on for a long time then tried the Met’s new online crime reporting tool.

She found that none of the categories on the step-by-step online tool matched what she needed to report (LW encountered exactly the same problem last week).

Talking to LW the mother said that even if the police could not do anything at the time she needed to at the very least get the incident logged.

The mother then tried 101 again and finally managed to get through to an operator. The conversation that followed did not end well with the operator lecturing her on the need to do her duty to report crimes while also dismissing her problem when she pointed out that there was little point in sending an officer round to talk to her son when he would not be at home.

When the mother informed the 101 operator that she was giving up trying to report the incident formally and would post it on the local Wapping WhatsApp crime group instead the line went dead.

The operator did call back and said that the system had crashed. Odd that.

LW Comment

Not having enough coppers in London is bad enough but this incident highlights the continuing problems of contacting the ones we do have.

101 still does not seem to be working well and while a good start the Met’s new online crime reporting tool still needs work in terms of the user experience.

Users tend to be understandably hesitant to select the wrong category when using the online tool but then become confused when they cannot find what they think is the right category.

Result? They probably give up and go back to trying 101. The result of that? They give up if their call is not answered within a reasonable time.

Bottom line is if there is any risk to a child dial 999.

WhatsApp groups are OK for informal conversations and information passing but are no substitute for informing the police.

There may well be some perfectly innocent reason for the incident described above but we don’t think so and are not taking any chances.

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