An attack on a foreign student in Horsham Park has prompted calls for extra lighting and cameras to be introduced in the park.
The 17-year-old victim was set upon and robbed of his bag in an ‘unprovoked’ attack while walking through the park at 5.50pm on Friday (January 15).
Jane French explained she knows the boy, who is from Hong Kong.
She said he moved to the UK with the ambition of studying medicine and settling here afterwards.
She said: “His biggest concern is for other people in Horsham and he wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else.
“We think the way forward is to make sure that people are made aware of the dangers of walking alone in the park and campaigning for lights.
“I live very close to the park and have written to the council in the past to ask for better lighting of the paths.”
The teenager was walking around the pond area to meet a friend when he was approached by five teenage boys who demanded his mobile phone.
One of the teenagers struck him around the head with a belt and another punched him, police said, before the group made off with his bag.
Jane added: “It is a sorry state of affairs when the people of Horsham cannot cross the park to go to the sports centre at 5.45 in the afternoon.
“How can this have happened and why and what can we do to make Horsham Park a safe place to walk after dark?
“I think the council needs to invest in lighting and cameras.”
A spokesperson for Horsham District Council said: “We were very concerned to hear of last week’s incident in Horsham Park which was very traumatic for the young man involved. We understand that Sussex Police are fully investigating the incident.
“In terms of security measures, some areas of Horsham Park are covered by the Public Space CCTV Network and these cameras are fully functional during the day and after dark.
“Additionally, the council’s security contractor and dedicated park rangers patrol the site as a means of inspecting as well as deterring any anti-social behaviour.
“Although key routes through the park are fully lit, the council always encourages pedestrians, particularly those who are alone, to use the routes along the surrounding fully lit main roads during the hours of darkness and we would always urge pedestrians to take personal responsibility for their own security.
“The incidence of violent and unprovoked crime remains relatively rare within Horsham district and statistically it remains one of the safest places to live in West Sussex.”
Detective sergeant Vicki Tomlinson said: “This was an unprovoked assault on a student visiting Horsham who had his personal items stolen.
“This robbery happened at a busy time of the day and we are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area, particularly a man who was with a child who helped the victim until officers arrived, or anyone who may have seen this incident or any of the suspects running off.”
Police are seeking a suspect described as white, aged 17, 5’ 9”, of skinny build and wearing a sandy brown or grey hooded top with a pattern on the front and had a small amount of facial hair.
Another suspect is described as being black, aged 17, 5’ 10” and was wearing a black quilted hooded top and dark trousers.
The suspects ran off in the direction of the underpass and it is believed the white suspect was seen carrying a bag and running near Boots.
Anyone with any information is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101 and quote serial 1266 of 15/01.
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