Niki Bell, 29, turned her back for a split second to draw money from a cash machine when a woman approached her five-year-old son, Ryley, and asked him to go for a walk with her.
The woman, aged in her 50s, told the boy: "You don't have a mummy, so come for a walk with me." Luckily, the youngster had been taught by both his mum and school to "say no to strangers", and he shouted out. Mrs Bell, of Grimsby, immediately grabbed Ryley's arm and alerted security guards at Freshney Place.And the police came and arrested her and everyone lived happily aft..
Mrs Bell said that following the incident, at about 11.30am on Wednesday, the woman followed them to the security desk in the shopping precinct. The woman, who had been wearing a red and white striped top with blue trousers and white trainers, put on a light blue jacket, which Mrs Bell believes was an attempt to disguise herself.Surely this galvanised them into action?
"The security guards told me they knew her as someone with learning difficulties," said Mrs Bell. "But I believe she must have known she'd done wrong because she changed her look, and went off after watching us at the security desk."No difficulties learning evasion techniques, then?
Humberside Police confirmed that a 57-year-old woman was arrested and released without charge.*sigh*
Jo Barnes, project director with responsibility for people with learning disabilities at North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus, said those with learning difficulties had the same rights to live in the community as anyone else, and called for more education about adults with learning difficulties.Yes, they do. But if their behaviour verges on the criminal, they shouldn't get a free pass, surely?
And what sort of 'education' would you like to see, Jo?
She said: "There are many people with learning difficulties who do not need managing or supervision within the community. There are many who are vulnerable.
"It is important to provide the support at the times these people need it.
"I do not know the lady nor the circumstances in question so I cannot comment on the level of support she may have had in the past or may have at this time.
"We support people with sometimes complex needs or lower level needs and we have a number of policies to mitigate risks to the people who support those with learning disabilities and the care we provide."What about mitigating the risks to parents who'd like not to have their wits frightened out of them by strangers approaching their children?