POLICE have stepped up patrols in Portsmouth after a schoolgirl was attacked by a man wearing a balaclava.
The 13-year-old Mayfield School student was walking in Ophir Road, North End, when she was grabbed by the back of her blazer.
It’s obscene there are people walking around here like that,
Her attacker then put his hand in front of her mouth before she ran away.
The girl’s school later sent letters home to parents urging them to help police with an urgent appeal for information.
Karen Davis-Duncan, 53, of Doyle Avenue, received a letter as her son James, 12, attends Mayfield. She said: ‘I was really worried, especially as it’s now going to be getting darker in the mornings.
‘Most of the children go to school in groups, but you get some who go on their own.’
Extra officers have been drafted into the area to reassure people they’re safe.
And shocked neighbours say they hope the ‘despicable’ person who targeted the girl, left shaken up following the incident at 8.20am yesterday, is caught as soon as possible.
Gary Philpott, 56, of Ophir Road, said: ‘It’s obscene there are people walking around here like that.
‘My daughter-in-law Sophie had left the house just before the attack, so it’s a bit scary.’
Ellie Grant, 45, said: ‘I was downstairs when I heard loud sirens, but I didn’t go out of the house. It went on for quite a long time.
‘Her poor mum and dad must be feeling awful.’
Wayne Frost, 57, said: ‘It’s awful and absolutely disgusting.’
Mayfield headteacher David Jeapes said in the letter to parents: ‘The school is working closely with the pupil involved and their family during this difficult time.’
The attacker was white, tanned, in his late 30s or early 40s, about 6ft and stocky with dark brown eyes and ‘chapped’ lips.
He wore a black Nike tracksuit with a white ‘swoosh’ logo with a white T-shirt underneath; black gloves; a balaclava and white and black leather Adidas trainers.
A police cordon was placed in Ophir Road while detectives investigated.
Det Insp Adam Price said: ‘Although incidents like this are worrying, they are rare and we are working hard to identify the man responsible.
‘This does appear to be an isolated incident and we have not received any other reports of this nature.
‘We would like to hear from anyone who was in the Ophir Road area, who may have witnessed this incident, and in particular we would like to hear from anyone who saw a man matching the description of the suspect hanging around the area. The girl did the right thing by running away and alerting a friend’s parent, who called police. I would ask parents to remind children of the stranger danger message, to remain alert, not alarmed, and to report any incidents to us.’
Anyone with information is asked to call Eastern CID on 101.