ALERT: Daily patrols plan after 'man in bushes with long lens camera' spotted taking pictures of schoolgirls in Sheffield park
Plans have been revealed to introduce daily patrols at a popular Sheffield park after a 'suspicious looking man with a long lens camera' was spotted in bushes taking pictures of schoolgirls.
Two members of the Walkley Neighbourhood Watch group said they saw the man taking snaps of youngsters from Sheffield High School for Girls while they were doing an outdoor PE lesson in the city's scenic Botanical Gardens.
The couple said the man started taking pictures when the pupils were running past and even attempted to follow them around the park. A second man was also seen to be acting strangely nearby.
Walkley Neighbourhood Watch, who are patrons of the park, have now revealed plans on their Facebook page to create a regular patrol team at the picturesque park as an increased safety measure. They said an incident in January where a 21-year-old woman was allegedly subjected to a sex attack in nearby Weston Park had also prompted them into action.
The group said: "We would like to address the situation at the Botanicals more effectively by a daily walking team who can not only get fitter as a consequence, but actively make sure that no suspicious gents in future remain in the area.
"After the events surrounding Weston Park this year, we firmly believe that monitoring of parks in our area is the best course of action. We are not a vigilante group, nor would we wish to become one. Our only aim is to report anything suspicious or out of the ordinary to the police.
"We have decided to do this of our own accord - being park patrons for many years."
The couple, who were not named, posted details about the incident on Wednesday, March 8, on a social media forum.
They said: "We noticed two gents acting suspiciously - one of which, had a long zoom attached to the front of his camera which seemed only to be operated when the girls were running past and not at any other time.
"Myself and my wife took an interest in what he was doing because of how suspicious he was acting. He then decided to have a wander into the bushes, and tried to follow the ladies around the Botanicals area.
"We both kept a good eye on him because we got the inkling that he was up to no good. There was also another gentleman near the cafe who took a keep interest shall we say in watching them run past."
They added: "Please keep your kids safe. It could well be nothing as we know, but the oddity of the situation and the fact we got the feeling that all was not right alerted us a bit too much for us not to report it."
The couple said the incident was reported to South Yorkshire Police. The force was still looking into the details today. Nobody from Sheffield High School for Girls was available for comment.