AN AREA of Fleming Way was cordoned off by police yesterday after a serious sexual assault in the early hours of the morning.

Police received a call to the area at 3.30am following reports 23-year-old woman had been raped.

The woman was assaulted by a man following a night out with friends in the town centre.

Following the assault, the attacker ran away.

Chief Inspector Phil Staynings said: “Firstly, I would like to commend the bravery that the victim in this incident has shown by reporting this crime straight away. She is now receiving support from specially trained officers.

“Secondly, I would like to reassure the community that a robust police investigation is now under way and Wiltshire Police will do all it can to locate the perpetrator and bring them to justice.

“It is crucial we hear from anyone who may have information on this incident. Anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant they may think it is, should contact us immediately.”

A large police presence was reported in the early hours around Debenhams, as investigations were launched and cordons remained in place around the pavement in front of the shop, bus shelter in Fleming Way and the underpass leading through to The Parade, throughout the morning.

Traders in the area arrived at work in the morning as normal, and management at the department store expected business as usual despite the ongoing investigation.

Debenhams manager Kevin Fisher said: “The buses are still running on time and stopping outside.

“The affected area is our secondary entrance, so we do not see the police cordon as affecting our trade too negatively.

“It has forced us to close one of our staff entrances so we have had to use the main entrance coming into work.

“We were alerted by police with phone calls this morning, so we knew what to expect.

“We have had some situations in this area in the past with people on the car park roof nearby threatening to jump off, but nothing this close to our door.

“Other things have happened around the back, so this is not a new experience for us.”

Kevin said the investigation did not include any part of the store.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.

Any victim of a sexual assault can seek support from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at the New Swindon Sanctuary, The Gables, Shrivenham Road, Swindon.

Its 24-hour helpline is 0808 168 0024 or visit www.newswindon