DETECTIVES have launched an investigation into an incident of physical and sexual abuse against a teenager from Barrow.

Specially trained officers are said to be supporting the victim after officers received reports of a girl in her late teens being subjected to physical and sexual attacks on Tuesday.

Community leaders expressed their shock at the attack.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Holden, head of crime and safeguarding at Cumbria Police, said: “The constabulary is aware of a post which has been circulated on social media concerning reports of physical and sexual abuse committed against a woman, aged in her late teens.

“These reports are currently subject of a thorough investigation carried out by a team of detectives. Enquiries, which are at an early stage, are ongoing to ascertain the full circumstances of the incident.

“I would like to reassure the public that reports of any form of abuse will be comprehensively investigated and victims will receive appropriate safeguarding.”

Cllr Dave Pidduck: “Any attack on anybody – whether male or female - who is out and about is disgraceful.

“Obviously I don’t know who the victim of this crime was, but my thoughts go out to her and her family. It sounds like it was a horrendous attack.

“I hope people co-operate with police to help bring whoever is responsible for this act to justice and to help make our streets safe again.

“I’m a grandfather, with five granddaughters. So even to think of this kind of awful attack happening in our town is sickening.”

Barrow MP Simon Fell said: "I am aware there is information circulating at present regarding the alleged assault and rape of a young lady in Barrow.

"I have reported this to the local police. I would urge restraint and calm.

"Please respect the alleged victim and do not do anything which may hinder any police investigation.

"I would urge anyone with any information pertaining to this case to report it directly to the police."

A number of takeaways in the town were linked to the allegations by people on social media.

They have issued statements on social media calling for justice for the victim.

Bosses at Mithali Takeaway in Cavendish Street, Dhaba restaurant in Dalton Road and Barrow Indian Cuisine in Cavendish Street issued a joint statement.

It said: “We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear that an allegation of rape has been made.

“We strongly condemn this incident. We are all ready to help and assist police by giving any information related to this.

“We are requesting police to take exemplary action against those criminals as a matter of urgency and we demand justice for the victim.

“As you all know Mithali has been a family run business for more than 25 years serving the local people in the Furness area.

“Please be assured that we are willing to co-operate fully with the police and the local people to bring those responsible of such a heinous crime to justice.”

Bosses at Mr Cheeko’s in Crellin Street said: “We shall not be replying to any more comments, or statements.

“The police are doing their bit and the culprits will be caught soon.

“It’s a disgusting act and if anyone knows more about this, we hope you come forward and assist the police.”