‘An isolated incident’ - Police offer reassurance following knifepoint robbery in underpass

The underpass where the robbery happenedPicture: Donna-Louise Bishop

The underpass where the robbery happenedPicture: Donna-Louise Bishop - Credit: Archant

Fresh calls for improved lighting in an underpass have been reignited after a teenager was robbed at knifepoint.

Amy-Jane Brooks, Dereham town councillor. Picture: AMY-JANE BROOKS

Amy-Jane Brooks, Dereham town councillor. Picture: AMY-JANE BROOKS - Credit: Archant

The 18-year-old was robbed of his mobile phone and bike as he walked along the underpass near Dereham's rugby club between Middlemarch Road and Moorgate Road.

The incident took place on Tuesday, October 29, between 5.55pm and 6pm after the victim was threatened with a knife by another man

Now residents of the market town are calling for further action to be taken.

The attack has reignited calls for lighting to be improved along the stretch of underpass, which many say they now avoid.

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Dereham Town councillor, Amy-Jane Brooks, is one of a number of people who refuses to use the route when it is dark.

She said: "There's poor lighting on that estate and I have avoided using that route at night time as it's so dark.

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"I would support plans to improve lighting and I can raise it at town council."

As well as taking it to council, Ms Brooks, a resident of Toftwood, said she would ask for confirmation over the responsibility of the area with Breckland Council.

This is not the first time this stretch of underpass has left people concerned for the safety of pedestrians.

In November 2013, police appealed for witnesses to a sexual assault that took place in the same area.

The female victim had been walking from Russett Way towards Middlemarch Road when she was followed by a man and touched inappropriately. She challenged him before running away.

Others have taken to social media to voice their concerns.

Kelly Louise Money, of Dereham, said she has refused to use the underpass for six years following an attack on her and her young son.

She said: "I was attacked walking through here with my son in his pushchair six years ago. I always avoid it now and still send shivers down my spine even walking through in daylight."

Some residents vowed to avoid the area permanently.

Jojo Harvey, also of Dereham, said: "Oh my god I walk this way to work most mornings - will be going the long way around now."

Callie Skelton added: "I was gonna walk this way last night thank God I didn't! Poor lad.

"Would have been same time too!"

Earlier this year, it was reported that the number of people caught carrying weapons in Norfolk had risen by almost half in a year - the highest rise in the country - but according to information on Norfolk Constabulary's website, the number of crimes involving knives in the county remains low.

At the time, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said if his officers were not taking knives off the street it would lead to an increase in violence.

Police are appealing for information following Tuesday's robbery, and have described the robber as having a London accent, wearing a grey hoodie and dark tracksuit bottoms.

Detective Inspector Bruce Clark said: "We believe this is an isolated incident. The enquiry is on-going so we would encourage anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information to contact [us]."

· Anyone with information should contact DC Debbie Johnston or DS Richard Long at Thetford CID on 101 quoting crime number 36/75960/19. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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