A SERIOUS sexual assault probe has been launched by police who have cordoned off a public footpath while they carry out their investigations.

Essex Police have closed off a section of Berechurch Road, in Colchester, after receiving a shocking report of serious sexual assault yesterday evening.

The force’s officers are understood to have been stationed at the scene since the early hours of this morning and were still present at just before 10am.

UPDATE >> Man, 23, arrested on suspicion of rape in Colchester amid police probe

The Gazette understands the taped off footpath, believed to be called Poperinghe Road, leads to the estate just off Abbey Field.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are investigating after receiving reports of a serious sexual assault in Colchester.

“It was reported to us late yesterday evening, Tuesday 21 June. Our enquiries are ongoing."

The police's presence immediately sparked concern among residents, who pointed to a correlation between this week’s assault and similar attacks in recent years.

In 2019, for example, police investigated reports of a woman being dragged into a nearby woods off Berechurch Hall Road, before being sexually assaulted.

Earlier this year, meanwhile, a man was arrested by officer after targeting a woman near the Corporal Budd VC Gym, in Berechurch Road.

READ MORE: Concern grows after police cordon off footpath known for being attack hotspot

Marg Morris, who lives nearby, said: “They were there at 5.30am and still there an hour later.

“I was on my way to pick up a friend and there was only one police car.

"I was shocked and worried because there have been sexual assaults on that path before.”


Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he also clocked the police presence earlier this morning when he left for work.

He said: "I didn't hear anything from mine but I saw the police were parked up.

"If I am honest something always seems to be happening - it's Colchester. But I have never felt unsafe."