A TEENAGE girl was sexually assaulted in woodland near The Rye in High Wycombe last night, police have said.

Officers cordoned off the location earlier today as they conducted a search of the area.

The girl met a female friend on The Rye at about 5pm yesterday.

The two friends then separated, and shortly afterwards the victim was approached by four men described as black and in their late teens, who stole her mobile phone. One of the men then sexually assaulted the girl.

The incident is believed to have occurred near a park bench located on the south side of the dyke, adjacent to the foot and cycle path and woodland backing onto Warren Wood Drive. Police have conducted a search of the area today.

Det Sgt Yasmin Dean, leading the investigation: “This is a horribly distressing incident which has left the girl scared and shaken. We need to ensure that whoever has done this is held responsible for their actions.

“The area is a busy area, widely used by dog walkers, runners and cyclists. I urge anyone who saw anything, or has any information about what happened to speak to us.”

Wycombe Commander, Supt Gilbert Houalla, said: “This type of incident is extremely rare and I would like residents to feel reassured that we are doing all that we can to carry out a thorough investigation.

“We will be having a highly visible presence in the area and an increase in the number of covert officers patrolling to ensure we follow up every possible line of enquiry.”

The incident was earlier described as a rape, but police have called it a sexual assault in an official statement this afternoon.

Anyone with information, or who witnessed the incident, should contact Det Sgt Dean at High Wycombe police station via the 24-hour non-emergency number 101.

If you don't want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.