Belfast Telegraph

PSNI says Bangor rapes are not linked

By Helen McDowell

There is growing fear in Bangor following the third sex attack in recent weeks.

Police are reassuring the public that they are not linking the three incidents in the seafront area, but local people are shocked and concerned at the spate of attacks.

One politician is calling on police to step up patrols to deter such violence.

Another branded the rape as barbaric, and is asking for tougher sentences for perpetrators.

A 19 year old woman was raped at a car park near the Coastguard station at Bangor seafront overnight on Friday (18th).

Police are appealing for information about a blue four-door car in the area between 11pm on Friday and 1.30am on Saturday (19th).

Officers are especially appealing for a female living in that area who assisted a distressed female at around 2am on Saturday to come forward and assist them with their enquiries. This female fed her and drove her back to her home in Belfast.

Police have moved to reassure the people of Bangor that they are not linking the three recently reported sexual assaults in the seafront area.

Officers are following definite lines of enquiry in relation to each report and are examining all available evidence including town centre CCTV.

Responding to questions raised by the Community Telegraph, C District Commander, Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw, said: "Local people can be assured that rigorous investigations are ongoing and there is no cause for alarm in the wider community.

"Police are grateful for the continuing support and cooperation of the local community as they carry out their enquiries.

"It is unusual for three reports of this nature to come so closely together and we appreciate it is easy for speculation to grow. However this can lead to inaccuracies and can be unhelpful.

"We continue to work closely with a range of partner agencies, local businesses and the community to ensure Bangor continues to be a safe and popular place to visit."

In total, three serious sexual assaults have been reported in the Bangor area within the past four weeks. One was reported in the Downshire Road area in the early hours of Tuesday, September 24. After thorough investigation, police are following a definite line of enquiry in this investigation.

Although officers are also following a definite line of enquiry into the report of a serious sexual assault in the Quay Street area on the evening of Saturday, September 21, they would still appeal to anyone with information to contact them at the Rape Crime Unit on 9070 0305.

North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne said he was shocked and appalled at yet another sex attack, and called for more police patrols.

He said: "There is no place for this type of activity on our streets.

"Unfortunately attacks of this nature are becoming an all too regular occurrence locally and I would urge the PSNI to step up their street patrols within the town centre to try and stop such dreadful attacks taking place in the future.

"We need to see an improved visible police presence on our streets to both reassure the law abiding public and also to deter any law breakers."

North Down Mayor Andrew Muir said his thoughts were with the victim of the latest incident.

He commented: "Attacks like these send shockwaves through the local community and I would appeal for anyone with information on the perpetrator to come forward and speak to the PSNI immediately.

"We must ensure our streets are safe and I would also encourage all local residents to remain vigilant and to take the correct precautions to secure their safety when out and about late at night."

DUP MLA Alex Easton said: "This sort of crime is barbaric and makes me really upset to think that this could happen to a young woman right at the heart of Bangor.

"I believe that we need to look at much tougher sentencing for this type of crime so that we send out a clear message that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our society and that it carries a heavy sentence.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the victim."

DUP MLA Peter Weir said: "This is a dreadful crime, perpetrated on this occasion on a teenage girl in Quay Street.

"I believe it is vital that there is an urgent assessment to ensure that every available resource is being made available to prevent this heinous crime happening.

"It is also crucial that everyone is vigilant to ensure young women in our midst are not left in vulnerable positions, particularly late at night. We should not lose track however of the fact that a young woman has been subjected to a horrendous ordeal, and should be in our thoughts and prayers.

"Similarly there is a man out there who is guilty of this hideous crime, and I urge anyone who has any information to immediately come forward to Bangor PSNI."

Councillor Wesley Irvine said: "I am aware that community safety wardens will be back on the streets by the end if the month. This is a development I welcome but in addition to this I would call upon additional police resources to be directed to the town centre at weekends to try and stop future attacks of this nature from taking place."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact detectives in the Rape Crime Unit on 9070 0305 or 0845 600 8000, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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