FOUR men have been arrested as part of an investigation into a rape in Newcastle city centre.

Police received a report that a woman had been raped in the Bigg Market in the early hours of Friday morning.

Officers attended the scene and the victim was offered support by a team of specialist officers.

An investigation was launched into the incident and four men, three aged 21 and one aged 22, were arrested on suspicion of rape.

They remain in police custody and are assisting officers at this time.

About an hour earlier, police were alerted to an alleged robbery in the Grainger Street area of the city.

A group of men threatened a man with a knife before demanding money.

The man did not suffer serious injuries but was left shaken by the incident.

Police are currently treating the two incidents as linked, and the four men in custody are also being interviewed in connection with the rape and robbery.

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Cass-Williams, of Northumbria Police, said: “These are clearly very serious incidents as a group of individuals targeted vulnerable people in Newcastle city centre.

“At this stage, police are treating the robbery and rape as linked and a team of experienced detectives are carrying out a number of enquiries.

“The investigation remains at an early stage and we are now keen for any witnesses to come forward. We have identified a number of people who were in the Bigg Market area on the morning in question and would like them to get in touch as soon as possible.

“Their information, however insignificant they may feel it may be, could hold the key to this investigation.”

Among the witnesses that police are eager to come forward are:

· Two men and two women were walking on Pudding Chare towards the Bigg Market between 2.50am and 3am. The group were all aged between 18 and 25. The first male had a coat and hood up, wearing dark bottoms and was making a phone call at the time. The second male had light or blonde hair and was possibly wearing a sweatshirt with a Superdry logo on the front. The first female had a coat covering her head and was wearing shoes with thick white soles and dark uppers. The second female had a coat over her shoulders and the hood up, wearing light or white footwear.

· A male entered Finlays newsagent between 2.50am and 3am and walked down Pudding Chare. The man was wearing a blue top or jacket, black bottoms and a black backpack.

· A female aged around 20 who entered Finlays newsagent on Bigg Market at around 1am. She bought a small bottle of milk and was wearing a short dark top with light horizontal and vertical stripes, blue ripped jeans and a dark belt. She had dark hair and was wearing white trainers.

· Three females aged between 20 and 30 who entered Finlays newsagents at around 1am. One female was wearing a beige skirt and a black top, had dark hair and was carrying a shoulder bag with a silver or white trim. The second female had dark hair and was wearing blue jeans and a black top. The third female was wearing a denim skirt and a black top with long light brown hair.

· Two females who entered Finlays newsagents at around 1am. The first female had light hair and was wearing a leopard-skin coat with a red top underneath, a black cap and a flowery dress, carrying a green umbrella. The second woman had a zebra-print umbrella and was wearing a dark jacket, a black top and black-and-white Vans trainers.

DCI Cass-Williams added: “The individuals described above were all in the Bigg Market area on the morning in question and we hope they may have valuable information that can assist with our investigation into the rape and robbery.

“I would urge anybody who thinks the description above may be them to contact police as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 quoting reference 84 041019 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111. Alternatively, email