Police issue appeal after sex attack in Belfast city centre
A young woman was rescued by a friend after a shocking sex attack on the streets of Belfast city centre.
The woman, who is in her early 20s, was subjected to what police have termed a "serious sexual assault".
She had been waiting for a friend to collect her on Rosemary Street at around 3.30am on Thursday.
When her friend arrived, they chased the attacker away.
The man fled in the direction of Royal Avenue.
He has been described as a black man who had been wearing a black coloured top, white jeans and a black baseball hat.
Detective Sergeant Mike Davis urged anyone who may have information about the attack to come forward.
"Police received a report that at approximately 3.30am this morning as a woman, aged in her early 20s, was waiting in the Rosemary Street area for a friend to collect her, she was sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant," he said.
"On arrival of the woman's friend he gave chase to the assailant who made off in the direction of Royal Avenue. I would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed this assault or observed this male being pursued to contact detectives at the rape crime unit on the non-emergency number 101.
"Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."
The attack comes as the number of sexual offences across Northern Ireland has soared in recent years. PSNI statistics show an upwards trend over the last two years after the figures had been falling previously.
In December 2013, 157 offences were recorded by the PSNI. This soared to 274 in October 2014.
Last month, 232 sexual offences were recorded by the police here.
In May, there was shock after it emerged a teenage girl had been subjected to a serious sexual assault in Belfast's City Cemetery.
The Rape Crisis Centre recommends a number of safety tips which include avoiding wearing headphones while walking along so you may hear an approaching attacker, being aware of surroundings, looking for potential escape routes, practising a buddy system where no one is left alone, having access to a phone and creating a family/friend code word so you may call loved ones in the event you are scared or need help without alerting anyone you are with.