CCTV footage released by Sussex Police of the father thought to have abducted his own daughter, before taking her to her home.
Yesterday afternoon, a city wide alert was put after a member of the public reported to have seen a child being abducted by Churchill Square shopping centre. However, the search was called off later in the evening, after the supposed abductor, who was actually her father, rang the police to confirm the girl was in bed.
The investigation began when the witness became concerned after seeing a young girl being picked up and carried away by what they described as an older man, of around 70 years old. The concerned onlooker then rang the police to report what they believed to have been a child abduction.
Sussex Police then launched a wide-spread search mission, despite no missing children having being reported, including putting out an alert to taxi companies around the city withs hundreds of drivers being asked to look out for the young girl and her supposed abductor. CCTV images of the child and the man were released, calling for her safe return.
However, after almost an almost 12 hour search, which included coverage from several national media outlets and widespread sharing over social media, the search was called off. The “abductor” had called into the police to say that the man pictured was himself, and that the little girl was in actual fact his daughter, and that she was now safely at home in bed.
The truth of the matter turned out to be that he’d been trying to persuade his daughter to come home after she’d been reluctant to leave town, so he picked her up and carried her. The police visited the man’s home following his call, and were able to confirm that the apparently missing three year old was safely at home, asleep in bed.
Sussex Police have thanked the social media users who were imperative in the search appeal spreading so quickly, and have also said that whilst the person who first called the police obviously misinterpreted the situation, they did act in good faith.