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Police issue personal safety advice after seven sexual assaults around Harold Wood station in 23 days

PUBLISHED: 15:12 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:36 15 July 2019

There have been seven sexual assaults around Harold Wood station since June 9. Photo: Steve Poston

There have been seven sexual assaults around Harold Wood station since June 9. Photo: Steve Poston

Archant

The Metropolitan Police have issued a warning to women who commute through Harold Wood station after a series of seven sexual assaults around the station in less than a month.

Detectives are appealing for information regarding the offences, which occured between Sunday, June 9 and Tuesday, July 2.

All of the incidents took place between 9pm and midnight.

All took place within the Harold Wood area, specifically within half a mile of Harold Wood Station.

The suspect is described as a white man aged between 16-20-years-old.

A number of victims have also been followed from Harold Wood train station.

Detectives are continuing work to establish whether all of these offences are linked.

On June 9, at 11.25pm, a woman was approached by a man on a bicycle at The Drive, he exposed himself to the victim and stopped and stared at her as she walked away.

Two days later, at 9.30pm on Tuesday, June 11, a suspect, again on a bike, rode past a lone female victim at Sackville Crescent, and assaulted her over her clothing.

Twenty minutes later, at 9.50pm, a suspect on a bike rode past a lone female victim at The Ridgeway, and assaulted her over her clothing.

He then smirked at the victim and rode away in the direction of Gubbins Lane.

Two weeks later, on Tuesday, June 25 at 9.50pm, a lone female was followed by a male suspect on foot. The suspect assaulted the victim over her clothing before walking off in the direction of Sackville Crescent.

Less than two days later, at five past midnight on the morning of Thursday, June 27, a woman on her own was about to board a bus outside Harold Wood train station when the suspect assaulted her, over her clothing, by grabbing her from behind, before walking off.

The following Sunday - June 30 - at around 9.35pm, a lone female was assaulted at Gubbins Lane by a male suspect, who then watched her and appeared to be touching himself inside his trousers.

The last incident ocured on Tuesday, July 2 at 10.45pm.

A lone female was assaulted over her clothes by a male suspect in Gubbins Lane.

The suspect then walked alongside her before running off in the direction of Ridgeway.

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Det Insp Edward Wilkinson said: "These incidents are clearly concerning and we are conducting numerous enquiries to trace the offender or offenders.

"Part of this is appealing to the public; there will have been people travelling home from the station at the times of the incidents and I want people to think carefully if they saw any suspicious behaviour at those times.

"I am specifically interested in speaking to the man who stopped to help the victim on Tuesday, 11 June on Sackville Crescent, you could really assist the investigation.

"At this stage we are keeping an open mind but there is a possibility these assaults could be committed by the same person.

"We have officers working to provide support to the victims who have, understandably, been left extremely shaken."

Investigators did arrest an 18-year-old man on July 9. He has been released on bail to a date in late August pending further enquiries.

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call police on 101 quoting reference: CAD 8441/ 1 June.

The Met has released some personal safety advice in the wake of these attacks.

Be prepared and plan your route in advance.

Be aware of your surroundings and do not be distracted by mobile phones or listening to music.

Avoid walking alone where possible and stick to well-lit, busy routes with lots of people.

Keep all valuables hidden and out of sight.

Consider carrying a personal attack alarm.

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