A family from Elderslie have hit out at Police Scotland after they dismissed rumours about an alleged attempted child abduction on social media.

The family believe someone tried to take their child from a park and officers were wrong to make a public statement stating: “no attempted abduction took place” and that the man is still at large and poses a risk to children.

Police were called to a playpark at Lomond Gardens in Elderslie last Thursday when they received a call that a man had approached a boy playing football and asked him to go with him.

A woman, who was already in the park, was told by another child that the man talking to the victim was asking the boy to leave the park with him.

She intervened and called the boy over to stand with her, she then called the police after speaking to the child.

The boy, 9, who has autism told the woman that the man asked him to go somewhere with him.

The child wasn’t alone. He was with a group of kids around the same age. The man told them that he knew the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Another witness saw the man crouched down, gripping what was thought to be a pint of lager or cider, talking to the boy.

The alleged incident happened at around 7.30pm on Thursday, 21st July 2022 .

Photo: Elderslie play park from the Lomond Gardens side of the road
Photo Credit: Renfrewshire News

The family claim that Police Scotland have not investigated the alleged attempted abduction thoroughly and that officers have not taken a witness statement from the victim.

Renfrewshire News has spoken to the family who do not wish to be named publicly. We have replaced the child’s name with three asterisks.

The victims mum told us: “The Police brought *** home and said there was a report of a drunk man talking to him and asked him to ‘come with me’ and *** said no.

“Police asked him what happened and that’s what he said to the officers, the man said to ‘come with me’.

The victim is autistic and Police were able to identify that. Mum added: “The Police knew *** had autism before I had the chance to tell them.

“I said to them he has autism and the officer said ‘we thought that’ and said to me ‘I don’t think we’re qualified to ask these questions’.

“The officer went outside to call his boss and came back in and said he wasn’t to question *** and that another trained officer would come out and speak to him.

“They said they would contact me to let me know when someone was going to come out and I’ve not heard a thing.

“Since then the Police have put a post on Facebook and said the incident didn’t happen.

“I said to *** he could speak to the officers if he wanted to, but we could see he was upset, shocked and white as a ghost and was quiet. He was starting to get confused so we left it for the specialist officer.

“There was a parent at the park who saw the man talking to him. He was also holding a pint, and the woman told *** to come over to her.

“*** told the woman that the man wanted *** to go with him and the police were called and he was brought back to us.

“It’s been going though my head what would have happened if he had said yes.”

He wasn’t alone at the park and was playing football with his friends when he was approached.

The victims middle sister said: “A few of the other kids said that the man said he knew Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s his [the victim] idol.

“That could easily have made him say yes and go with him.”

Police Scotland published a post on Facebook on their Renfrewshire and Inverclyde Police Division page stating: “We are aware of rumours circulating regarding the attempted abduction of a child from within a play park at Lomond Gardens, Elderslie on Thursday, 21 July, 2022. Officers have carried out enquiries and no attempted abduction took place.”

Photo: Police Scotland issued a statement on Facebook
Photo Credit: Screengrab / Renfrewshire & Inverclyde Police Division Facebook

The family told Renfrewshire News they were surprised at this statement despite officers not returning to speak to the victim to get a full statement.

Mum added: “The police have said this never happened and it’s a rumour, it happened.

“What happens if it happens to another kid. He’s still out there.”

The victim’s middle sister added: “It’s the fact that the Police are trying to say it never happened. They’re saying there is no danger to children and it never happened.

“There are literally so many people coming on [Police Facebook page] and saying it’s not the first time this has happened [with the same man]. There is a lady who is his neighbour who has posted publicly on the page saying he was accused of the same thing before.”

The victims mother added: “A woman from a nearby house said she saw the man with a pint crouched down talking to *** as well and she never thought anything of it.

“When she saw on Facebook what happened she spoke out.

“Since that day *** is still frightened. The other day the door went and he thought the man had come back to get him. He said “don’t get it, what if that man knows where I stay”.

The mother told Renfrewshire News that it was only the second time he had gone out by himself, with friends who are around the same age, to the park.

“It’s set him back, he won’t go back out of the house. He’s too scared to because of that man.

“The day before [the incident] he went out with his friends for the first time. We never forced him, it just happened. It was great, he loved it.

“The next day we said he could go back out after his tea and his friends came in for him and away he went. Next thing we knew the Police were bringing him back.

“He won’t leave the house and won’t even go out the back door.

Police Scotland are standing by what they published.

A Police Spokesperson said: “Police Scotland officers carried out extensive enquiries following a report of the attempted abduction of a child within a play park at Lomond Gardens, Elderslie on Thursday, 21 July, 2022 which established that no attempted abduction had taken place.

“Should anyone have any further information or concerns relating to this incident, they should contact Police Scotland on 101 or speak to local officers.”

As we publish this article, Police Scotland have since been in touch with the family after Renfrewshire News contacted officers for comment.