POLICE investigating an alleged rape which is believed to have taken place in a crime-ravaged park will increase their patrols to allay residents’ concerns.

Cudworth Park, which has been blighted by antisocial behaviour and criminal damage this year, was taped off by police last Saturday following the alleged rape, which is believed to have happened in the early hours of that morning.

The victim at the centre of the rape probe, who is in her 30s, is being supported by specialist officers trained to deal with sex crimes, according to officers.

At a crime meeting held in the village on Wednesday, local police were grilled about the goings-on in the park after Coun Charlie Wraith lodged his concerns with long-running problems.

One business owner, who did not wish to be named, told the Chronicle after the meeting that the alleged rape had ‘shocked the community’.

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“Cudworth Park has been brought up as a problem area time and time again and it’s meant to have been a policing priority for the last six weeks,” they said.

“This is an area where kids are meant to be safe in, where they can go to play, but why would anyone take their loved ones there when there’s constant vandalism, antisocial behaviour and potentially a serious sexual offence?

“It’s time the police got a hold of this as it’s constantly being reported to them. The park’s a no-go zone.”

The meeting was told that Cudworth-based PCs and PCSOs have been visiting the park to keep tabs on issues raised - particularly with teenage gangs - but ‘nothing untoward’ had been noted on their recent patrols.

PC Clare Sidaway called for funding to be provided for CCTV to be placed in the park - a move she said would reduce both crime and residents’ concerns.

“Unless we see anything while we’re there, it’s incredibly difficult to identify anyone without CCTV,” she added.

“We need to look towards achieving that, hopefully with the help of the council, especially now we’re in that summer holiday period.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the park and its two car parks, where stop and searches have been carried out due to suspected drug concerns.

“It’ll remain on our list as it’s clearly very much an ongoing problem area.”

n Anyone with any information about the alleged rape should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 61 of July 13.

Crimestoppers can also be contacted, anonymously, on 0800 555111.