British police have told parents to stop sharing images of an old man dressed up in a girls’ school uniform who loitered outside school grounds, as he “does not pose a risk.”
Photos of the old man, who appears to be in his 60s, wearing a wig and the girls’ school uniform of Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, loitering around the area of the school and on a bus that children use to go home, have circulated on social media.
“We have received multiple emails and calls regarding this man wearing a girls Belfairs uniform and wig,” said uniform-supplier Paul’s School and Work Wear. “We can confirm that the full Belfairs uniform did not come from us, however he was in store this week purchasing a grey box pleat skirt that he said was for his granddaughter, he is now banned from the shop.”
However, despite the police being aware that the man “dressed in an inappropriate outfit in the vicinity of a school,” officers from the Essex Police Community Policing Team identified him and declared that him wearing the school uniform and wig was being treated as a “mental health incident,” noting that they had referred him to “specialist support.”
“Although this may have caused community concerns, we would like to reassure the public that no offences have been committed and that this individual does not pose a risk,” the statement continued.
“We would like to remind the public that continued circulation of images on social media could have a detrimental personal impact on those concerned and we would ask that the public refrain from circulating images,” Essex Police demanded. Many parents continued to share the images regardless.
In a comment on their post, Paul’s School and Work Wear confirmed that they would not take the images down, because they are “unhappy” with the situation. “We would never want to bring any harm to him and people are free [to] express how they feel about this,” they added.
A spokesman for Belfairs Academy confirmed that they had informed the police of the incident. Despite the claims from Essex Police that the man “does not pose a risk,” Belfairs revealed that the police had told them they are now “actively patrolling the community” as a result.
Further photos posted online depict the man wearing the uniform for Milton Hall Primary School in Southend. UK primary schools teach children from the ages of 5 to 11.
Last September, Sussex Police were widely criticised online after they declared that it was “irrelevant” that a convicted child sex abuser is a biological man who identifies as trans, warning people that they do not tolerate “hateful comments” about his gender identity.
The force eventually had to walk back their statement.
This news and commentary by Jack Hadfield originally appeared on Valiant News.