Detectives are appealing for witnesses and information after three attacks on women in south London are now being investigated as a linked series.
Officers are also releasing a CCTV image of a man they would like to identify and speak to in connection with the offences.
All the offences are against lone females on foot in the street and have occurred within a four mile radius of each other. They have also all taken place in the early hours of a weekend or public holiday.
The method of the attack has been similar in each one with a man attacking the victims from behind and physically assaulting them.
The first incident was on Friday, 4 December 2015 in Commercial Way, SE15 between 01:15hrs and 02:15hrs. The 31-year-old victim suffered a head injury.
The second incident was on Sunday, 13 December 2015 on Hanover Park, SE15 between 06:15hrs and 06:45hrs. The 30-year-old victim was assaulted to the point of unconsciousness and was discovered lying in the street by a passerby.
The third and most recently recorded incident was on New Year’s Day, Friday 1 January 2016 in Creekside/Deptford Church Street, SE8. The 18-year-old victim suffered serious assault injuries to her head and face.
All three were originally being investigated separately but intelligence work on the incidents led to them being linked. Whilst currently there is no forensic evidence linking them as sexual attacks, all three are now being investigated by the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command’s Serious and Complex Case Team.
The CCTV image and footage released by officers is from the attack on Friday, 1 January. Enquiries internally have not yet resulted in a positive identification.
Detectives are keeping an open mind regarding the suspect, and any motive, and are asking women to be vigilant if travelling alone and on foot in the early hours.
They are also appealing for anyone who may have been the victim of any unreported attack - violent or not - to contact them.
Detective Chief Inspector Zena Marshall, who is leading the investigation by the Serious and Complex Case Team, said:
"These attacks have all taken place on lone women, at times indicative of travelling after a night out. The areas in which they have occurred are geographically close to each other. The level of violence appears to have escalated each time so I am urging women, in and around the areas affected, to be alert and follow personal safety advice.
“I cannot rule out that there may be other offences, which could possibly be linked. If you are a woman who has been approached or assaulted in circumstances that sound similar to these, but have not reported it to the police, then I would urge you to please get in touch with us."
“Also, I would urge anyone who thinks they recognise the man in the CCTV image released to contact us. Any information you have could prove vital in enabling us to identify and speak to this man as part of our investigation.
“I would also urge anyone who was in any of these locations on the days and times of these offences and saw something that may help then please get in touch with us.”
Anyone who feels they may have been victim to a similar but unreported attack, or any witnesses or anyone with any information is urged to call the investigation team on 020 8217 6541 or via 101. To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.
Personal Safety Advice:
o Prepare and consider your travel arrangements carefully and ensure someone knows where you are going, who you are with and when you might be home.
o Look as assertive as you can, walk with confidence and be aware of your surroundings and who is around you.
o Avoid short cuts and dark isolated areas, vary your routine and be discreet handling cash, phones and wearing jewellery in a public place.
o Never take your safety for granted and look after your friends so that they don’t become vulnerable. Remember your personal safety is more important than your phone or other valuables.
o Keep your bags close to you and secured with zips closed. Check your belongings and your pockets regularly.
o Wearing headphones and talking on the phone can make you unaware of your immediate surroundings - this makes you appear vulnerable and gives an advantage to a criminal.
o If you feel uneasy about an individual or situation, trust your instincts and leave the area and head towards a public place such as a shop.
Further advice can be found here: http://content.met.police.uk/Site/crimepreventionpersonalsafety
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