A DEVASTATED councillor says he is "shocked and horrified" after police launched an investigation into a serious sexual assault.

Dave Harris, who is the Colchester councillor for Berechurch, has been left appalled by news of yet another attack in his ward.

Essex Police received a report of a serious sexual assault on a footpath near Berechurch Road on Tuesday evening.

Officers subsequently cordoned off the public walkway, believed to lead to an estate near Abbey Field.


They remained at the site throughout the early hours of today and this morning while investigations were carried out.

Mr Harris has now issued a warning to residents who live nearby.

He said: “I am shocked and horrified because this is not the first time something like this has happened in this location and that does really worry me.

“We have to make a change in this community and put a stop to it, but for now I am advising people to not walk alone and to contact the police with any information.

“I have family, friends and of course my community so it is worrying because I want them to be safe.”

READ MORE: Berechurch Road Colchester closed due to 'serious sexual assault'

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.

Marg Morris, who lives nearby, said: “[The police officers] 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 officers early yesterday 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."

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 evening on Tuesday. Our enquiries are ongoing."