Police are investigating an assault on a teenage girl on Weston Shore which has sparked calls for more patrols and better street lighting.

News of the attack on Monday night has left residents concerned but not entirely surprised.

Many of them, women in particular, say they avoid going out on their own when it's dark as they don't feel safe.

One woman said "unsavoury figures" can be seen in the area at night-time. 

This is what we know so far on Monday's attack and what residents have told us.

READ MORE: Residents demand more police after girl attacked

What happened?

A 16-year-old girl was walking along Weston Shore between 8.30pm and 8.40pm when she was approached by a man.

Police say she was physically assaulted but did not reveal any further details. She was left with minor injuries.

The teenager managed to escape and spoke to a number of members of the public who were in the area at the time.

The girl's attacker ran off in the direction of Netley.

The assailant is described as being white, aged approximately 35-40, with a large build with a shaven head.

No arrests have been made at this time.

Daily Echo: The girl was assaulted between 8.30pm and 8.40pm on Monday, October 9 The girl was assaulted between 8.30pm and 8.40pm on Monday, October 9 (Image: Ross Marshall)

What have the police said?

Police have described the attack as unprovoked and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Detective Constable Eloise Prowting, said: "We understand that news of this incident will be concerning to the local community and we are exploring all viable lines of enquiries to identify the suspect.

“We know from our enquiries that the victim spoke to a number of people in the area at the time shortly after the alleged assault – a woman with a small child, a runner, and a man pushing a trolley. 

“Was this you? Did you remember speaking to the victim?

"If so, we would implore you to please come forward and speak with us in terms of any vital information that you might have which could aid our investigation."

What do residents say?

The residents we spoke to after police released their appeal yesterday did not witness or know about the attack.

However, many were not surprised to hear about it due to a lack of police presence.

Carol Smith, 64, from Netley, said: “It is so dark down Weston Shore at night. It is a very long public footpath with lots of trees and fields nearby.

“As a woman, I certainly don’t feel safe walking down here after dark. All we need is a couple of bobbys on foot patrol in the shore in the late hours of the evening.

“At the moment, there is no police presence. If the police parked the car and walked up Weston shore just once a night, it may deter an attacker.”

Bryan Withington, 79, from Weston agrees. 

He said: "We are desperate for more police around here, but unfortunately, I understand the police are underfunded and understaffed. 

"But it shouldn’t come down to young women being attacked because there isn’t enough police. I hope the poor girl is okay.”

Linda Read, 53, from Weston said: “I come down here late in the afternoon to avoid being down here when it’s dark, for the very reason that there are some unsavoury figures around this area at night-time.

“It’s only when my husband is with me that I feel safe coming down here at night or after dark. I grew up in Weston, and unfortunately things like this do happen occasionally."

Ray Watson, 62, from Weston said a bobby called Ted used to patrol the area.

“We were all very scared of him, but that’s exactly why he was there, to deter anyone that was up to no good. It’s nice to walk along the shore here and so it’s a real shame that things like this happen here.”

Daily Echo: Ray and Karen Watson said they want to see more police at Weston ShoreRay and Karen Watson said they want to see more police at Weston Shore (Image: Ross Marshall)

His wife Karen, 61, said: "I don’t think I could walk down here at night - I just wouldn’t feel safe.

"You don’t see any police around here. If they aren’t going to have police, perhaps they could have help points with someone on the phone at least."