A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of attempted rape in a car park outside a B&M store in Essex.

Essex Police were called to the car park, outside B&M in Parkway, Chelmsford, just before 2am on Saturday morning (March 9) following reports of a woman being sexually assaulted.

The call sparked a huge police investigation and a day of extensive enquiries from the force's Serious Crime Directorate.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We responded quickly and the victim is continuing to receive support from our officers and partner agencies.

"Detectives from our Serious Crime Directorate have committed themselves to carrying out extensive enquiries, including reviewing CCTV and obtaining witness statements from those in the area.

"This evening, a 21-year-old man from Chelmsford was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape. He remains in custody.

"A scene has been in place at the location throughout the day and expected to remain there overnight.

Chief Supt Simon Anslow, from Essex Police, said “I must start by stating how this report has shocked us at Essex Police and stress that these offences are extremely rare.

“From the moment we received this call, our priorities have been to safeguard the victim and ensure she is supported whilst gathering evidence from the area.

“Detectives have worked extremely quickly to investigate what has happened and arrest a man in connection with this offence. We will continue with this momentum to ensure justice for the victim.

“We will remain in the area to continue enquiries and the investigation team are specifically appealing to anyone who may have any dashcam footage from the Parkway area of Chelmsford between 12:30pm and 2am this morning to contact us.

“Additionally, if you witnessed anything suspicious in the area in the early hours of this morning, please contact us.”

Those with dashcam footage or further information are asked to contact Essex Police on 101, quoting reference number 102 of 9 March.

You can also let the force know by submitting a report on our website or by using our online Live Chat service available Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) between 10am-9pm.

If you would like to make an anonymous report you can contact independent charity @Crimestoppers, by visiting their website or by calling 0800 555 111.