Safety concerns over Thetford woodland after mugging

Safety fears have been raised about an area of woodland in Thetford after a woman was the victim of an attempted robbery last week.

Local residents, councillors and a Norfolk police and crime commissioner candidate visited the wooded area yesterday, which is a well-used pedestrian route between two housing estates.

On Friday, a woman in her 50s was left with scratches and bruises after two men attacked her whilst she walked through the woodland between the Abbey and Redcastle estates at around 5pm.

Local people and councillors say there have been a number of muggings in the area over the years and have called for action to improve safety.

Steve Morphew, the Labour candidate in the running to be Norfolk's first elected police and crime commissioner, echoed those concerns as he paid a visit to the area.

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Residents have called on measures to improve the lighting and to cut back the hedges, trees and weeds to try and improve visibility.

Terry Jermy, Thetford town and district councillor, said it was shocking that the most recent incident in the woods had happened in broad daylight. He added that he would be raising the matter at the next Safer Thetford Action Group.

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'Over the last ten years there have been quite a number of attacks - I can't think of anywhere in Thetford where so many people have been attacked and something needs to be done,' he said.

The small area of woodland, which is a scheduled ancient monument, is owned by Breckland Council, but local residents say it has not been maintained properly.

Dawn O'Connor, who lives in St John's Way, said she did not enter the woods because of fears that she would be attacked.

'It is a lovely wood and they do not need to knock down trees, but they do need to clean it up a bit. I am sure there would be a lot of people on the estate who would help. It is not nature, it is a mess and it needs to be safe for people to walk through so people are not looking back thinking they will be attacked,' she said.

In last week's attack, two men on mountain bikes attempted to take the victim's handbag after blocking her way, but left empty handed after she refused to give it to them. One of the men caused her to fall into a tree, causing scratches and bruising to her left arm. Officers would also like to speak to a man in his 30s who helped her after attempted robbery.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact Det Con Mark Barron at Thetford CID or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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