POLICE are continuing to investigate after a woman in her 20s was raped at Westquay Shopping Centre on Saturday morning.

Officers were called to reports of an assault at 8am – around an hour before the shops opened. Police closed off an area to the right of the main entrance to John Lewis off Harbour Parade. A police van was parked up on the pavement and blue tape was in place.

Behind the cordon, which was removed early on Sunday morning, police were continuing their investigation and other officers nearby were making enquiries.

A spokesman from Hampshire Constabulary told the Echo yesterday: "There are no real updates to the case at the moment.

"We are not proactively pursuing witnesses as of yet but people with any information that may prove helpful can always contact 101."

The rape allegation comes just weeks after it was revealed that crime levels in the city are "significantly higher than the national average".

As previously reported, crime in Southampton went up for the fifth consecutive year between 2018/19.

Southampton City Councillor Dave Shields, cabinet member for healthier and safer city, said: "This is an ongoing investigation by the police so I do not wish to comment on this case in particular.

"But I'm always concerned to see serious crime in the city centre at any time, and I'm keen to work with local businesses and the police to make Southampton a safer place."

He added: "Southampton has always had a higher crime rate than the national figures because of the nature of the city.

"It is disappointing that there has been a drop of crime in Hampshire and Portsmouth but Southampton has gone up."

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Enzo Riglia said last summer the Police and Crime Commissioner was given Home Office funding to establish a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in Hampshire "which is bringing together partners from policing, probation education, health and local authorities to identify the root causes of violence and develop solutions to reduce it".

The Safe City Partnership is also working with partners across the city to understand the causes of crime in Southampton and to take action.