Schools in Dover on alert after kidnap scares

Tanglin Trust School in Portsdown Road has advised parents that "students should not walk alone in the vicinity of the school, but walk with friends". One of their students was approached on Tuesday by two people in a white van who asked her to get i
Tanglin Trust School in Portsdown Road has advised parents that "students should not walk alone in the vicinity of the school, but walk with friends". One of their students was approached on Tuesday by two people in a white van who asked her to get in as she was walking to school.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Two international schools alert parents; police say man in first case had no ill intent, second case being probed

A male driver who was questioned in connection with one of the two "kidnap scares" involving international students had no ill intent, the police have determined.

The Straits Times understands the driver claimed he had merely offered a lift to a female student because it was raining then.

Two international schools in the Dover area have alerted parents about two alleged attempts to entice their students into vans this month.

The police confirmed to ST yesterday that two reports have been lodged about the cases, and the driver involved in one of them has been identified.

A police spokesman said, however, that the investigating officers have determined that the male driver had no ill intent.

Police have updated the parent of the child involved in the incident on the findings, the spokesman said.

But investigations in the more recent incident involving "a female driver" were still ongoing.

Police said such reports are treated seriously, but advised the public not to speculate before the investigations are completed.

The first case, on last Thursday, involved a United World College (UWC) South-east Asia Dover campus middle-school student (age 11 to 14) waiting for the bus in Dover Road.

In a letter seen by ST that was issued to parents by the school, UWC said the girl was approached by a man driving a van who asked the student to get into the vehicle.

"The student took exactly the right action: She did not respond, walked away in the opposite direction of the van, and informed a known adult," said the letter. She and her parents filed a police report that night.

The second incident involved a female student from Tanglin Trust School.

She was walking to school on Tuesday at 12.30pm from one-north MRT station when she was approached by two people in a white van - said to be driven by a woman - who asked her to get in.

A school spokesman told The Straits Times that the girl ignored them and continued to walk to her school in Portsdown Road.

The two occupants of the van then got out of their vehicle and continued to try to persuade her to get in, but she moved away quickly and arrived at school safely. The school later filed a police report.

Both schools have sent letters to parents about the incidents.

Tanglin Trust School advised parents that "students should not walk alone in the vicinity of the school, but walk with friends".

A UWC spokesman said the school also informed schools in the area and other international schools.

Dulwich College headmaster Nick Magnus told parents in a letter yesterday: "We are indeed blessed to live in a country which is regarded as one of the safest in the world. However, low crime does not mean no crime... "

Fairfield Methodist Primary school, which is also in Dover Road, had also sent out a letter to parents asking them to be vigilant.

The Ministry of Education said it has measures in place to safeguard the security of students and staff in its schools.

It said schools ensure safety by controlling access and through safety protocols and procedures, together with closed-circuit television surveillance systems, gate barriers and security officers.

MOE also said: "Through the school curriculum... students also learn how to keep themselves safe by being aware of their surroundings, avoiding potentially dangerous situations and how to ask for help from trusted adults."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Schools in Dover on alert after kidnap scares'. Print Edition | Subscribe