A DETECTIVE hunting for a sexual predator who targets women in the street believes the same man could have attacked women in the area last summer.
Det Insp Mark Oughton said he was sure the solution to the Boxing Day attacks on three women in Swinton “lies within the community”.
Police received three separate reports on Boxing Day from women who said an unknown man had touched them inappropriately while they were walking in Swinton, before fleeing.
Officers, who have issued CCTV footage of a man they want to speak to (above), now believe the incidents are linked to similar reports of sexual assault in Swinton reported last June and July.
The man struck on Boxing Day between 8.50pm and 9.30pm in Queen Street, Station Street and the churchyard at St Margaret’s Church targeting women aged between 26 and 52 years old.
Mr Oughton said pub staff had been urged to stay vigilant and patrols had been stepped up in Swinton. He added: “I’m convinced the answer to these crimes lies within the Swinton community.
“I believe it’s someone who has got well-established links to Swinton because of the way he’s known the area.
“He’s targeted lone women, walking at night, some of whom have been drinking.”
The detective said he was “very interested” in the six-month gap between offending, adding: “Could it be someone who has been away from the area?
“A student who has returned? Someone who has been in prison or their domestic situation has changed?”
Mr Oughton (below) said there had been a “positive response” so far to the release of new CCTV footage of the suspect walking through Queen Street on Boxing Day.
The man is believed to be white, aged between 20 and 30, around 5ft 4ins tall and wearing a hooded top with a reflective square on the back.
Mr Oughton said the attacker could have carried out further sexual assaults in pubs on Boxing Day which may have gone unreported.
“I think there will be some victims out there that have not come forward as they genuinely don’t believe that they are victims and might have just accepted that man’s actions as unacceptable behaviour.” he said.
“We are trawling CCTV from the area and treating this extremely seriously.
“We have a team of officers on the case and also have some on-going forensic opportunities to explore.”
Mr Oughton urged anyone with information to come forward, adding: “Boxing Day is a very memorable day.
“We are asking people to look at the footage, if you suspect it could be a family member or a friend get in touch.”
Call 101 quoting incident number 857 of December 26 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.