Violent sex attack and stabbings linked to rise in county lines gangs
PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:31 28 October 2018
A spate of violent attacks in Colchester are being linked to the rise of county lines gangs by community leaders – who are calling for tougher punishments on knife attackers.
Just this week a woman was sexually assaulted and had her face slashed after a robber attempted to steal her purse in Castle Park.
And this month alone several stabbings have plagued the town, including a man stabbed in the face at the University of Essex.
Now prominent Colchester figures are speaking out over the latest attack, which happened at around 9.15pm on Wednesday.
Labour politician and deputy council leader Tim Young said the community wants county lines out of the town.
“We are getting influences from outside that are not positive,” he said. “We need to deal with that and the police need to deal with that and I know it is high on their priority list.”
Mr Young went on to suggest more police resources are needed to tackle the issue.
“We want county lines out of our town but police resources are needed to do that,” he added.
Meanwhile Mike Lilley, responsible for public safety at the council, said increased punishments for knife crime should be introduced if the violence is to end.
“I sound like a stuck record,” he said.
“All this time I’ve said that the government needs to increase the sentence for carrying a knife.
“There should be a sentence connected to the seriousness of the crime and people carry a knife for one reason only, to use it.
“If you use a knife you should be forced to face the consequences.”
In this latest attack a woman was walking past a children’s play area when she was approached by a man.
He demanded cash and her phone, but when she refused the attacker punched her to the floor, pulled out a knife and slashed her face.
Police believe she was then sexually assaulted as the man searched for her phone.
He left the scene with her purse, detectives say.
Darius Laws, the borough council’s Conservative leader, said this sort of incident is rare in Colchester, and added: “It’s not a Colchester problem, it’s a county lines problem.”
Essex Police are continuing to appeal for information about the attack. The woman described her attacker as a skinny white man white, in his 20s, with light coloured hair.
He wore dark tracksuit bottoms and a light coloured hooded tracksuit top, according to detectives.
Anyone with information is asked to call Colchester CID.
Alternatively, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.