Detectives investigating the alleged abduction of a child in Surrey have arrested a man on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
The arrest comes after Surrey Police launched a large-scale operation called “Operation Bigfoot” in a bid to trace the boy, who was reportedly seen being pulled into a black VW Transporter van between 4.20pm and 4.40pm on Redstone Hill on Thursday.
The boy was described as white and about 4ft, wearing a red T-shirt and navy jeans.
But no child matching the boy’s description was reported missing and Surrey Police said that after an “extensive and thorough investigation” there is no evidence to corroborate the claim.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Pete Fulton, said: “The risk to life and safeguarding children are our first priorities when presented with a report like this which is why we took the course of action we did.
“Time was of the essence which is why we asked for help from the public and media to find out what happened as soon as we could.
“Reports of this nature are extremely rare and we are the sure the public understand that when information such as this is received we treat it extremely seriously and must do all we can to find out investigate what’s happened.
“It is understandable this has caused a considerable amount of concern and confusion in the area which will last beyond just these few days.
“We will continue to work with the community and realise that this has been disruptive and had a large impact, however I hope that you are reassured that we take your safety extremely seriously.
“The witness has been re-interviewed at length about their account and at this stage and as a result of our enquires no further information has come to light to corroborate the report.”
Detective Superintendent Fulton said the force had carried out “extensive enquiries”.
These included reviewing hours of CCTV, house-to-house enquiries, talking to commuters and receiving more than 100 calls from members of the public in less than 24 hours - all of which takes a “significant amount of time”, he said.
A National Police Air Service helicopter also assisted with the search.
The man has been released on bail.