More security on Hastings footpath after girl sexually assaulted

(L-R) Ed Clarke, Rev Paul Parks, Cllr Andy Batsford and John Whittington with the new CCTV camera outside St Helen's Church
(L-R) Ed Clarke, Rev Paul Parks, Cllr Andy Batsford and John Whittington with the new CCTV camera outside St Helen's Church

Cameras are being installed to increase security on a Hastings footpath after a girl was sexually assaulted there on her way home from school.

A new fence on The Ridge path has also been erected after a man tried to put his hand up an Ark Helenswood Academy student’s skirt in January.

There will be a competition for pupils to design a poster for each end of the path to warn others not to walk there alone.

Helenswood’s e-safety officer Ed Clarke the measures will improve visibility and make the route safer for everyone.

“Keeping students safe, both in and outside of school, is our top priority at Ark Helenswood and this is what the CCTV and fence aims to achieve,” he said.

“Previously, the route was obscured by trees, meaning that attackers can easily hide in wait and that there is virtually no surveillance to protect against attacks.

“By clearing those trees back and installing a fence and CCTV, we hope to make the route far safer for everyone – students as well as members of the wider community.”

The school decided to act after a man attempted to pull the 14-year-old into the trees alongside the path placing his hand up her skirt as he did so.

This led Mr Clarke to write to Hastings Borough Councillor Andy Batsford to ask for more to be done to protect children using the cut-through from the BP garage to St Helen’s Church.

Rev Paul Parks agreed to host the CCTV at the church and the council’s Safer Hastings Partnership provided £1,000 for the new fence.

Helenswood is now running a competition to design a poster which will be placed at each end of path, reminding people the path is under CCTV surveillance and not to walk alone.

The fencing, CCTV and poster campaign ideas came out of a site visit with Mr Clarke, Cllr Batsford and community safety officer John Whittington.

“It’s been a great piece of partnership working and what being a local councillor is all about,” Cllr Batsford said.

“Bringing passionate creative people together and coming up with solutions that make the area safer I want to say a big thank you to the St Helen’s Church, Ark Helenswood, council officers, Safer Hastings Partnership and the Community Payback Team and Ed for his commitment to the safety of the children.”

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at 2) Like our Facebook page at

3) Follow us on Twitter @HastingsObs

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Hastings Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.