BY TOBY PORTER
Women reclaimed their local park by walking around its boundary after a string of sex assaults on lone joggers and dog walkers there.
Women are being warned about a sex attacker whose assaults in South Norwood Country Park in broad daylight have become more frequent – there have been six since the start of May.
But residents say there should be notices around the open land to tell everyone not to travel alone.
A group of 80 women marched around the park to raise awareness about the number of attacks which have taken place there on female dog walkers or joggers.
They spoke to park users and were alarmed about how few people knew of the attacks.
Jane Nicholl, a volunteer for local group the South Norwood Tourist Board said: “We want notices all around the park. It is horrendous what has been happening – there has not been anything like it since I was born here in 1950.
The police should have been quicker to alert people that this was happening.”
Detectives have issued an appeal for information following the series of incidents inside the park.
Officers are investigating six separate attacks on women which are believed to have taken place in the park between Friday, May 3 and Friday, June 21.
There had been a gap of a month before three incidents took place in the space of two days.
Each of the victims – aged from their early 30s to mid 60s, were walking or jogging alone, five of them with dogs.
All the offences occurred in daylight and on weekdays between 10.50am and 4.30pm.
Four of the victims were sexually assaulted. In four cases the suspect either stole or attempted to steal mobile phones from the victims.
None of the victims suffered any further injuries.
At this stage, officers are treating the offences as linked.
The suspect is described as a black male, aged between 16 and 25, tall, thin and with dark hair.
Detective Sergeant Matt Loftus, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are working hard to identify the suspect in this case and are appealing for anyone who might have seen or heard anything to speak to us, however insignificant they think the information may be.
“We would advise park users to be vigilant and will be providing additional patrols in the area.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting reference CAD 5140/20JUN19 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
A 16-year-old has been charged with six offences including sexual assaults and appeared at Croydon Youth Court on Tuesday.
He was released on bail to reappear at a later date.