Giving children the equivalent of rape alarms may simply “spread the fear of crime”, it has been claimed.

The suggestion of personal alarms for children follows five known incidents in recent months in which men have approached youngsters and encouraged them to get into their vehicles in Great Totham, Heybridge, St Lawrence and twice in Maldon.

Great Totham neighbourhood watch co-ordinator Linda Priestley came up with the idea for children to carry personal alarms.

She said: “How are we going to protect our children?

“I had an idea we should have personal alarms for them, but I’m in two minds because the

alarms could be abused or it could frighten children and make them feel vulnerable."

Maldon's Sgt Phil Morley was not in favour of children carrying personal alarms.

He said: "I think there's an issue of spreading the fear of crime."