Police respond to claims that a 'notorious British paedophile' has moved to Lancashire
Police have responded to claims on social media that a 'notorious British paedophile' has moved to Lancashire.
It follows rumours circulating on Facebook that an alleged paedophile known as 'Mark Feely' has been spotted in Chorley in recent days.
Today (Thursday, March 25), Lancashire Police has issued a statement addressing these concerns and confirming that there is no substance to the reports on social media.
The force says it is a case of mistaken identity and confirmed that 'Mark Feely' does not live anywhere in the county.
It is the second time this week that Lancashire Police has taken to social media to dismiss claims about Feely living in the county.
On Monday (March 22), social media reports claiming that he was in Rossendale led to a suspected arson attack at a block of flats where he was rumoured to be living.
Following the fire, police issued a statement saying that Feely was not living in Lancashire, but was in fact living "100 miles away".
A 34-year-old man from Bacup has since been arrested on suspicion of arson endangering life.
In an attempt to dispel the online rumours, Chorley Police published a statement on its Facebook page.
It said said: "We are aware of rumours on social media suggesting a man called Mark Feely has moved to the Chorley area.
"We believe this is a case of mistaken identity and that these rumours are false.
"We can confirm the individual named on social media DOES NOT currently live in the Lancashire area.
"We understand that when rumours like this circulate people may become concerned.
"But, as is sometimes the case, when people start to talk about such things, stories are confused and added to as they are passed on, without any malicious intent,
"And after the story has been retold a few times it can become exaggerated or feel like it must be true."
The statement from Chorley Police echoed the reassurances offered to those in Rossendale earlier this week.
On Monday, Rossendale Police posted on Facebook: "You may have seen a police presence on Thornfield Avenue, Waterfoot, so we’d now like to give you some more details.
"We were called at around 12.40am today (Monday, March 22) to reports of a suspicious fire at a block of flats. Thankfully, they were empty and nobody was injured.
"Our investigation is in the early stages, however we need to address local social media posts naming someone who people believe is a sex offender.
"We’ve made enquiries and can confirm the person named in the posts does not live in Rossendale or even within Lancashire.
"This was therefore a case of mistaken identity which nevertheless could have had very serious consequences.
"A 34-year-old man from Bacup has since been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage – arson endangering life. He remains in police custody."
Replying to comments on its social media post, Rossendale Police sought to calm the community's fears by assuring residents that Feely "is over 100 miles away".
Lancashire Police said people should still report any suspicious behaviour and approach officers with their concerns, but the force has urged people not to spread 'gossip' that could cause alarm in the community.
The force added: "It is really important that people report first hand any instances of suspicious behaviour to the police and to try and avoid repeating gossip and third hand information.
"Please do be wary of misinformation which is sometimes provided by channels other than the police."