A woman dialled 999 to report an attempted abduction after claiming a man had tried to take her six-year-old niece on a Sheffield street.
They were on Dagnam Road, Arbourthorne, when the woman claims the man approached her niece, who had been walking slightly in front of her.
He was detained at the scene by the young girl’s uncle until police officers arrived.
The girl’s uncle removed the man’s key from his car to prevent him driving off.
The man was later arrested on suspicion of immigration offences - after attempted abduction was ruled out. Officers said they do not believe there was anything sinister in the man’s intentions.
Insp Paul Ferguson, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Following a call from a concerned member of the public, officers went to Dagnam Road, Arbourthorne.
“The caller thought that she had witnessed a motorist attempting to abduct a child from the street. She rightly called police to immediately raise the alarm.
“However, once officers arrived, they were able to establish that the motorist, who was a foreign national, had not attempted to take the child at all.
“The man’s status within this country was in question. As such, he was arrested as a suspected illegal immigrant and taken into custody, whereupon detailed investigations with the Immigration Service could take place.
“We thank the caller for taking such prompt action.
“While in this case the child was not in jeopardy, the caller was entirely right to act in the way she did. Protecting the safety of young people in particular is of paramount importance.”
The incident happened on Sunday, May 18, at 3pm.