A FRESH crackdown on anti-social behaviour has been launched in Havant.
Extra CCTV has been installed at the Meridian Shopping Centre and staff issued with body-worn cameras in the fight against nuisance caused by large groups of youths.
We need you to report any incidents to us, so that we can build a complete picture of what is happening in the town centreSgt Ross Freemantle
Now a year-long crackdown, Operation Syren, has been launched by police in a bid to end the problem.
Hampshire police said dispersal orders covering the town centre and retail park managed to move on the youths.
The force hopes the new initiative will improve things for residents, market traders and retailers.
It is being backed by the centre and Havant Borough Council.
And it comes just months after the borough council scrapped almost all of its CCTV system.
Meridian Shopping Centre Manager Rob Fryer said youths have been throwing stones at staff, climbing on roofs and hurling verbal abuse at shoppers.
He said: ‘We have been working alongside Havant’s Neighbourhood Policing Team to deal with small incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre in recent months.
‘The Meridian Shopping Centre team has adopted a high profile approach and staff have been issued with body cameras as a deterrent.
‘This footage could be used at a later date to secure a prosecution if required.
‘The centre has also invested in new external CCTV cameras on our building giving us greater visibility of the surrounding areas in the town centre.
‘We feel It is vital that local shoppers choose to come to Havant, instead of other retail destinations, to support local traders, especially in the run up to Christmas.
‘Making shoppers feel safe is key to the success of retailers in the town centre and I’m pleased that Operation Syren will help to give people that re-assurance’.
Sergeant Ross Freemantle added: ‘In many cases it’s teenagers who are causing ASB issues, but we can’t do anything unless we know about it.
‘While Operation Syren will include the use of dispersal orders and targeted patrols to manage any ASB hot spots that we identify, the success of the campaign rests squarely on the shoulders of the whole community.
‘Don’t think that someone else will report the problem.
‘We need you to report any incidents to us, so that we can build a complete picture of what is happening in the town centre. You can do this by visiting the Hampshire Constabulary website or calling 101.’
He warned teenagers they could face a criminal record, or be issued with fixed penalty notices, behaviour contracts and criminal behaviour orders.’