VIDEO: Detective Chief Inspector warns public to "stay safe" following rape of 14-year-old girl in Harrogate
Detectives have launched a major investigation after three men grabbed a 14-year-old girl in Harrogate's Valley Gardens and brutally raped her.
The teenager, who lives in the town, was taken to an area at the bottom of the Pinewoods, near Harlow Moor Road, and assaulted her at around 4am on Tuesday.
A man has been arrested following the attack and the suspect has been helping police with their enquiries.
Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Ellis, from North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, which is based in Harrogate, said: “The report is of three attackers. We are certainly speaking to one person so we will be seeking information as to who else maybe involved in the attack.
“The investigation is still at a very early stage at the moment and we are still in the process of obtaining evidence from the victim and trying to establish the full facts.
“I don’t believe there is a significant risk to the wider public at the moment. However, we would advise people to apply general personal safety advice when considering walking out at night. This girl was assaulted at 4am in a semi-rural area so I would think very carefully about personal safety.”
Despite the attack happening in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the crime scene wasn’t cordoned off until around 4.30pm on Tuesday.
Det Chief Insp Ellis said: “She’s obviously a young victim so she is clearly distressed by what has happened and it’s quite common for an incident not to be reported to us for some time afterwards.
“We know she was out at that time in the morning but we are not sure of the full circumstances as yet.”
The crime scene remained taped off yesterday as officers, including a forensic team, continued to search the area.
The victim is being offered continued support from specially trained officers.
Det Chief Insp Ellis said: “I’d like to emphasise that investigations remain ongoing and the public’s help is vital, so we’d urge anyone with any information to come forward.
“We realise the incident will cause a great deal of concern in the local community. But I’d like to reassure residents that we are doing everything possible to investigate this incident while providing a strong police presence in the community.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 12160028307.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.