Police chief: Alcohol-fuelled violence is our top priority

TROUBLE A man is restrained by police in Guildhall Walk
TROUBLE A man is restrained by police in Guildhall Walk

Taxi driver assaulted by youth with knife in Southsea

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Portsmouth’s top police officer has insisted that tackling alcohol-fuelled violence in Guildhall Walk is one of his top priorities.

The declaration came following the revelation that the city centre street is one of the country’s worst for violent crime, according to a government website.

The nightspot, where most of the city’s pubs and bars are situated, saw 38 violent incidents in December – more than any other street in England and Wales.

In total 78 incidents, including violent crime, were recorded in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth.

The city’s top policeman, Chief Superintendent Nigel Hindle, admitted the street was a hot spot for alcohol-fuelled violence, but added that people should look past the numbers.

‘I’m not denying that there is a problem,’ he said. ‘Alcohol-related violence is our top priority, and we are taking measures to tackle the issue.

‘What I’m hoping is that people will now ask questions about the number of offences, and what we are doing to bring them down by working with street pastors and the Safer Portsmouth Partnership.

‘They can also look at more in-depth information on Hampshire Constabulary’s website about what local officers are doing to tackle the problem.

‘All these things get missed if people just focus on the figures at the expense of understanding the issue properly.’

The figures come from the Home Office’s new ‘crime map’ which, as The News reported yesterday, has come under fire for giving a misleading impression about some areas. The site appeared to show tiny Surrey Street, in Portsmouth city centre, was a hotbed of crime, and one of the worst 10 streets in the country.

In fact it is simply at the centre of the postcode area which includes Guildhall Walk – and the crimes logged in the surrounding area also show up when users search for Surrey Street.

Cllr Eleanor Scott, the city council’s cabinet member of environment and community safety, who described the situation as a ‘gigantic blunder’, called on Home Secretary Theresa May to visit Surrey Street to see it for herself.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, Cllr Scott said: ‘I invite you to come to tiny Surrey Street, and perhaps enjoy a quiet beer in its one pub with the postal workers who use it at the end of a shift, and you will see how distorted and inaccurate the crime map is.

‘If you are going to blame the nature of the software, then it is inappropriate that such blunt and unsophisticated software has been used, at a cost I believe of £300,000, in 2011.’