Specialist police officers in Southampton will step up patrols in the city this weekend as the hunt for an alleged rapist continues.

Officers in Southampton received a report just after 5am on Thursday that a woman in her 40s had been raped in East Park.

Officers descended and cordoned off a large area of East Park and the incident has sparked shock and concern in the community.

The Chief Inspector for Southampton, Chris Douglas, has now issued an update as to what the police are doing to curb fears.

Ch Insp Douglas said: "We fully appreciate how concerning this incident will be to residents of Southampton and I want to take this opportunity to explain what we are doing following this report.

"Hampshire Constabulary’s western Operation Amberstone unit, which is the team specialising in rape and serious sexual assault investigations, has been following numerous lines of enquiry in order to identify and locate the suspect.

“We remain in the local area conducting enquiries today and will be carrying out dedicated patrols across the weekend.

"Police, in partnership with licensed premises, security staff, community safety wardens, street pastors and our South Central Ambulance Service colleagues, patrol the city centre every weekend and during busy periods to ensure the safety of those who are out and about."

The police inspector added these efforts would be enhanced this weekend and officers will be increasing their presence in the city centre, as well as the parks, including East Park, throughout the weekend evenings and well into the early hours of the morning.

Southampton's Chief Inspector added: "My officers are well trained in identifying those who are targeting vulnerable individuals and are focused on ensuring that those responsible for committing crime are held to account; whether that is through proactive arrests, via dispersal orders or by progressing them through the criminal justice system.

"We will have additional officers on patrol over the weekend who are specially trained in detecting suspicious behaviour in order to disrupt crime before it is committed, particularly around sexual offences.

“I ask that if you are out in the city centre this weekend and have any concerns, please come and speak to patrolling officers or security staff at local venues. If you need to report a crime and there are no officers available please call 101, or 999 in an emergency.”