POLICE have pledged increased visibility and patrols in the area around Bournemouth seafront after a 14-year-old boy was raped in a public toilet block.

A 51-year-old man from Bournemouth remains in police custody after being arrested on suspicion of rape following the incident which happened sometime between 8.30am and 8.45am on Saturday, May 7.

A full investigation is ongoing led by detectives from Bournemouth CID and specially trained officers are continuing to provide support to the boy and his family.

The men’s public toilets at Pier Approach remain closed following the report to police.

The incident has caused widespread shock and anger among residents who have called for more visible policing.

Bournemouth Echo: Public toilets at Pier Approach in BournemouthPublic toilets at Pier Approach in Bournemouth

Neighbourhood Chief Inspector Darren Harris, of the BCP Local Policing Area, said: “We are continuing to work collaboratively with BCP Council and other partner agencies to ensure we have an increased visible presence along the seafront and these efforts will continue throughout the rest of the spring and summer.

“Police officers, police community support offices, Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) officers and council staff can be approached by members of the public with any concerns. RNLI lifeguards and staff can also be approached, with their beach towers serving as a safe place to address concerns or seek further help.”

NCI Harris also said the multi-agency communications centre, which was set up to tackle crime on days of higher demand throughout the summer, would also be in operation.

Councillor Bobbie Dove, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for community safety and regulatory services, added: “As part of [our] seasonal response plans, additional patrols will be undertaken by our security, CSAS and seafront teams over the summer period.

Bournemouth Echo: Public toilets at Pier Approach in BournemouthPublic toilets at Pier Approach in Bournemouth

“The seafront area is covered by CCTV cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day and multi-agency staff will be deployed from our control room in the event of reports of crime or anti-social behaviour.”

Helen Stevens, chief executive of Dorset-based sexual trauma and recovery service STARS, told the Echo: “For this poor young lad and his family, at this moment in time they will be in crisis and having to manage what’s happened, so it’s very important to give them that message of hope.

“With a crime against a child, as we have in this situation, the police have to be involved but we know that sexual crimes are hugely under-reported.

“Dorset has such great services out there to support victims and anyone else affected, like parents, spouses and friends.

“If you are reading this and this has impacted you, we are here to offer support.”

Anyone who has been affected by sexual violence and would like confidential advice and support can call the STARS Helpline on 01202 308855 or visit www.starsdorset.org.