Police are investigating the rape of a woman in the London Road area of Hastings at around 4am this morning (Sunday, April 11).

The 18-year-old victim was attacked as she walked along the alley running parallel to St. Leonards Warrior Square train station in Kings Road. The man was seen running from the scene in the direction of London Road.

The incident is being jointly investigated by Sussex Police and British Transport Police (BTP). The investigation is in the early stages and detectives are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the victim being followed by the man or anyone acting suspiciously in the area at the time.

Detective Inspector Mark O’Brien said: “We are conducting a meticulous investigation into this serious offence and are working closely with BTP and neighbourhood officers to gather information.  “We ask the local people of Hastings for their support while we investigate this rare and isolated incident. We are keen to talk to anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen something suspicious. If anyone has any information that could assist in this investigation, however insignificant it may seem, they should contact us immediately.”

The scene is currently being searched for forensic evidence and CCTV footage is being examined.  Inspector Rosie Ross from the neighbourhood response team said: “Neighbourhood officers will be maintaining a highly visible presence in the London Road area over the coming days, conducting house to house enquiries and putting up information boards about the investigation. I will be keeping the community updated as the investigation progresses.

“I must stress that attacks of this nature are rare, but we do want to remind women to take personal safety advice. Do not walk alone late at night, instead plan ahead and make sure you have a taxi booked in advance to take you safely home. If you must walk, stick to busy well-lit streets whenever possible. Avoid danger spots like quiet or badly lit alleyways, subways or isolated car parks. ”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999, quoting Operation Heatley or anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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