POLICE investigating a sex attack on a woman as she walked home from a night out have pledged to continue extra patrols in the New Town and Stockbridge area “for as long as is required”.
Additional patrols are being deployed as detectives continue to hunt for the attacker who pounced on the 23-year-old victim in St Vincent Street last weekend.
The woman was grabbed from behind by the prowler, who forced her to the ground, before she scared him off by screaming at the top of her lungs during a struggle.
Police are treating the incident as a sex crime due to the nature of the struggle.
Over the weekend, teams of officers spoke with members of the public who were returning home or travelling through the New Town and Stockbridge area to establish if they had been there the previous week and witnessed anything suspicious.
High-visibility reassurance patrols were also deployed throughout Stockbridge, and more 60 questionnaires were issued relating to the assault. As part of the police hunt, basement areas and secluded spots in and around Stockbridge were searched for evidence.
The area in and around Cumberland Street was included during police patrols, as officers continue to investigate whether a similar attack, which took place on Saturday September 29, is linked to the incident.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, who represents the Inverleith ward, welcomed news that additional patrols were being deployed.
She said: “People always feel nervous after incidents like this, particularly when there are two similar attacks in the same area.
“The presence of police on the streets will offer reassurance, and I also hope that it encourages anyone with information to come forward. People should feel safe to walk the streets of somewhere like Edinburgh. Some will still feel confident walking while others will take more precautions.
“We should not feel frightened, as women, to be out walking in the city but it makes sense to take precautions when someone might be out there who is responsible for these attacks.”
The woman was grabbed from behind by the man in St Vincent Street at around 2.40am on Sunday, October 14.
Officers said her screams were loud enough to deter her attacker, who ran off along North East Circus Place towards Stockbridge.
Detective Sergeant Lynsey Thomson praised the assistance of the public so far, but urged anyone who can help bring the suspect to justice to come forward.
DS Thomson said: “Our reassurance patrols were undoubtedly a comfort to those who live in and frequent the Stockbridge area and these will continue for as long as is required.
“It’s now been a week since the victim was subjected to this terrifying ordeal and so it seemed appropriate to re-visit the area in the hope of talking to people who may have been there last week.
“Local residents, dog walkers, early morning commuters and taxi drivers were all spoken to during this time to determine whether they were in or around St Vincent Street in the early hours of last Sunday morning and whether they remember seeing or hearing anything suspicious.
“The response from those we spoke to was positive and we will now go through the statements and questionnaires.”
CRIMESTOPPERS offers women advice to help avoid becoming a victim of a sexual attack. The charity recommends following its personal safety advice, which includes walking in “bright, well-lit and busy areas” and “never taking shortcuts at night”. Other safety tips include the
Try to look and act confidently: Look like you know where you are going and walk tall.
Use reasonable force in self-defence: You are allowed to protect yourself with something you are carrying – for example, keys or a can of deodorant, but you cannot carry a weapon.
If you decide to defend yourself: Be aware that your attacker might be stronger than you, or may take an object you are using in self-defence and use it against you. It is often better to shout loudly and run away. Shout “fire” rather than “help”.
Stay with friends whenever possible and don’t walk home alone: Look after friends if they’ve had too much to drink and make sure they get home safely. Keep the phone number of a trusted taxi firm with you.
If you think you are being followed: Cross the road. If you are followed, cross back again. If you are still concerned, go to the nearest public place and call police.