A total of 14 people have now been arrested as the hunt for three young brothers who were abducted from their foster home on Coulsdon Road continues.
Bilal, Mohammed Ebrar and Mohammed Yaseen Safi (6, 5 and 3) were taken by their biological father, Imran Safi, on August 20 when he broke into their home and threatened the children’s’ foster mother with a knife.
The four drove away at around 6pm and have not been seen since, and an urgent manhunt has been ongoing to help locate and bring the children back to safety.
It is now thought by police that the brothers could be in Bristol after another arrest, the 14th in the investigation, was made their in the early hours of Wednesday, September 2.
An appeal from the Met Police went public on August 27, by which point eight people had already been arrested on suspicion of being involved.
Hundreds of officers and detectives have been working around the clock to trace Safi’s movements, and it is not known if he has been able to taken the children out of the country. It is reported that the kids were close to being formally adopted at the time of the abduction.
Due to the swift disappearance, police believe this was likely a planned crime, leading to a public appeal to those within the community or linked to he family.
Met Commander Jon Savell said their “absolute priority” is the welfare of the three children. All eight arrested are thought to be friends or family of Imran Safi, and all were taken into custody in the Croydon or Kenley areas.
Since then, five more people have been arrested at addresses in Ilford, all in connection with the abduction.
In the latest development, police believe the kids may have been taken to Bristol, and have made another arrest.
In the early hours of Wednesday, September 3, officers arrested a 17-year-old male on Connaught Road, Bristol, on suspicion of being involved in the abduction. This takes the total to 14.
Detective Superintendent Neil Cochlin, from the South Area BCU, said: “Since the brothers were taken by their father, Imran, we have made a significant number of arrests that started in the Croydon area and then took us to Ilford, east London.
“Following these leads we have now arrested a man in Bristol today.
“I now call on the communities in Bristol to report any possible sightings of the boys or Imran and to call police if they think they have any information that can assist in this investigation.”
Anyone who believes they have seen Imran Safi and his children since Thursday, 20 August is urged to contact police immediately through the investigation control room on 07942599374 – this number is operational 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Alternatively, to stay completely anonymous, contact the charity Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111 or fill in their simple and secure anonymous online form.
Any member of the public who may see Imran Safi should avoid approaching him but call police immediately on 999.