Police visit Harlow schools after claims of man with machete - follows break-ins/alleged snatch bid


POLICE attended a number of schools in Harlow today after a report that a man tried to enter at least one with a machete.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "We received a third-party report today, 18 November, at around 12.10pm that a man was trying to access at least one school in Harlow and that he was in possession of a machete.

"This information did not come from an educational establishment, but several schools in the Harlow area made the decision to take immediate safeguarding action.

"Enquiries started immediately and officers attended the schools.

"Upon speaking to school staff, we can confirm that no school or other educational establishment in Harlow has reported anyone trying to gain access to their premises nor anyone in possession of a weapon.

"We want to reassure parents and the public that schools in the Harlow area are safe and there is no apparent risk to students or staff. "

A facebook post had earlier gone up saying a man with a machete was seen trying to enter a school.

Some schools reportedly kept pupils inside while the matter was investigated.

The Facebook post promoted several concerned parents to contact their child's school to ask if they were safe.

One school sent an email to parents this afternoon which said: "You may have heard that, following a Facebook post, schools across Harlow kept all students inside their building as a precaution earlier.

"We have been informed by the police that there are no concerns and the incident mentioned on Facebook happened much earlier today, quite a distance from our school, and has been dealt with.

"Thanks for those that got in touch about this."

It comes after an earlier security scare at schools in the town after burglars entered a number of schools during the school day to try to steal.

One targeted just before half term was Holy Cross Roman Catholic Primary School in Spencers Croft.

Another letter sent earlier this month said: "Before half term a criminal gang targeted several schools in the area.

"The gang are targeting schools in Harlow and the wider area and attempting to steal staff valuables.

"They are focussed on accessing kitchen areas as they often have doors open due to the heat.

"Sadly, they were successful in stealing a staff handbag from the kitchen changing room.

"The police are aware of the organised group and they are using our CCTV footage to help catch them.

"They gained access to the Holy Cross site by following parents in that accessed through the buzzer.

"At no point were any children in danger as they did not gain access to the main school building.

"We have followed police advice completely and remain hopeful they will catch them. We hope this helps you understand the full picture. At no point were any children in danger, however, we have reviewed our procedures and have changed some parts to try and ensure that no similar losses to staff possessions occur."

Essex Police did not comment on the spate of break-ins.

On November 7 a girl told police that a man tried to lure her onto a cycle track from Tawney's Road, near St Marks Catholic School and William Martin School at about 5.30pm.

A 30 year-old man from Harlow was later arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and possession of class B drugs.

However, he was later eliminated from enquiries and officers said they were not seeking anyone else.

Detective Inspector Tony Atkin said: "This has been a complex investigation which required many hours of work by officers, including viewing CCTV footage and phone analysis in order to ascertain the circumstances around this report. “Having reviewed all accounts obtained, a man who had been arrested has now been eliminated from our enquiries. “We have remained in consistent dialogue with the young girl and her family and they are aware of this decision and they continue to be supported by our officers.”