CHILDREN and parents were today warned to be on their guard after it emerged detectives are investigating at least 14 sex attacks in the same area of Blackpool.
Disturbingly, most of the serial attacker’s victims have been youngsters – targeted in Layton on their way to and from the area’s schools.
Detectives have released an EvoFit and CCTV image of the man they believe is behind the sickening attacks in the hope someone will reveal the pervert’s identity.
Hedges at Layton Cemetery have also been cut back by Blackpool Council at the request of police in a bid to deter the attacker, who was still at large today.
Det Insp Tony Baxter, head of Blackpool’s public protection unit, said: “There have been upwards of 14 offences since March in the same area.
“The vast majority of them targeted children of school age.
“Somebody out there must know who this man is. They must recognise him and it’s really important they come forward and we catch this man.
“He clearly poses a risk to the public and he is upsetting the public. We need to catch him before he goes on to do something more serious.”
Barbara Lund, headteacher at Unity College Blackpool, on Warbreck Hill Road, North Shore, said: “It is worrying. We will certainly work through form tutors and assemblies to remind young people about their own personal safety particularly in that area on the dark evenings.”
Police issued the EvoFit of the suspected attacker after two schoolgirls were attacked in the summer.
A 13-year-old was pushed to the ground after being grabbed by a man on Talbot Road in July, but managed to flee after kneeing her attacker in the stomach.
In a similar incident on August 11, a 15-year-old was dragged into the bushes in Kingscote Park, but also managed to escape.
Now, a CCTV picture (left) has been released after two 11-year-old pupils were flashed on November 7 in Layton Cemetery, where the majority of attacks have taken place.
Det Insp Baxter confirmed there had been a number of arrests since the attacks – which have ranged from flashings to indecent assaults – began in March, however no charges have yet been brought.
He said: “We can’t rule out the fact the incidents could be committed by more than one person, but we are clearly working on the principle they could be linked.”
Residents in Layton today spoke of their shock at the string of attacks.
Mum Paula McIvany lives near Kingscote Park – where a girl was attacked in August – and said: “I use Kingscote Park a lot and it does alarm me, it’s horrible.”
George Jones, 76, who lives in a flat close to the cemetery’s Mansfield Road exit, where the latest incident happened, said: “I’m concerned. I would not let children walk through there at the moment and if it’s dark you can’t let them out. Everyone round here is talking about it and is worried.”
And Cath Hurley, treasurer of Layton Traders’ Association, added: “Everyone is worried and they really need to catch him.
“If I had young children I would not be happy about letting them out.”