South Norwood park attacks: police announce second arrest

Police have made another arrest in their on-going investigation into a series of attacks and sexual assaults on women in South Norwood Country Park over the last two months.

According to a statement from the Metropolitan Police issued overnight, a man is in custody having been held on suspicion of sexual assault and robbery.

This “breakthrough” has come within a couple of days of a group of more than 80 people staged a “Reclaim Our Park!” walk around the area on Friday, as much in defiance of the attacker as to protest at the lack of action and information from the local authority, the ward councillors and the police.

Monday’s arrest is the second inside a week connected with the case. The police announced last Tuesday that they were questioning a man, though he was released without charge soon afterwards. Another sighting of a suspect who fitted the police description was made in the Country Park on Wednesday morning.

The suspect is described as a black male, aged between 16 and 25, tall, thin and with dark hair.

Within 24 hours, the SNTB had created more publicity around the attacks in the park than the police or council managed in six weeks. Photo: Christopher Hope-Fitch

There have been six recorded assaults. The attacks have all happened in the daytime, since May 3. The latest recorded attack was on June 21. Four of the women attacked, aged from their early 30s to mid-60s, were sexually assaulted.

Community activists have advised that, unless or until the police confirm that they have the suspected attacker in custody, then dog-walkers, joggers and ramblers should continue to be vigilant when using the park, and women should consider avoiding using the park on their own. It is suggested that a further attack on a woman in the park last Wednesday was deterred because of the presence of others nearby when the suspect approached.

Following some very mild criticism of the attending detective’s failure to even attempt to meet with the public who were taking part in last Friday’s mass walk, a senior officer is understood to have approached one of the organisers, from the South Norwood Tourist Board, to seek a meeting to discuss how better to engage with the community.

Meanwhile, given the South Norwood Tourist Board’s continued success with local initiatives, including with the Sensible Garden and beleagured Croydon FC, it is understood that they are to submit top-level applications for grants amounting to tens of thousands of pounds to the Arts Council, Sport England and, now, to the Mayor of London, towards their continuing successful work in performance art, grassroots sport and community policing.

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