Police frustration as nobody turns up to Portsmouth community meeting

IGNORED Marcella Payne of Neighbourhood Watch, with PSCO Rob Manns and Special Constable Gemma Cooper.    Picture: Malcolm Wells (112125-9425)
IGNORED Marcella Payne of Neighbourhood Watch, with PSCO Rob Manns and Special Constable Gemma Cooper. Picture: Malcolm Wells (112125-9425)

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DISAPPOINTED police officers said they will keep trying to reach out to people in Paulsgrove – despite no one attending their latest community meeting.

Local people were invited to the Healthy Living Centre, in Allaway Avenue, yesterday to discuss joining new neighbourhood watch schemes in the area.

Two officers attended, along with a Police Community Support Officer, a Special Constable and a co-ordinator for the city’s neighbourhood watch, to answer resident’s questions and concerns.

But in the two-and-a-half-hours they spent in the health centre, from 10.30am to 1pm, not a single member of the public turned up.

PCSO Rob Manns of the Paulsgrove Safer Neighbourhoods team said it was a shame to see no interest from the local community.

‘All we can do is keep trying,’ he said. ‘We know that people round here have worries and concerns, because they tell us about them when we’re out on the beat.

‘But you can’t force people to engage with what we’re doing.

‘We’ll have to make sure people know we’re here so they can come and speak to us if they want to.’

At present there is only one local neighbourhood watch scheme running in Port Solent, but the police are keen to develop more across the area.

Co-ordinator for the city’s neighbourhood watch Marcella Payne said often despite handing more than 1,000 flyers for meetings, turnout can be as low as 30.

‘It’s a shame,’ she said. ‘The public need to talk to us or we can’t help them.

‘People will call me up at 10.30pm in the evening with complaints, but refuse to attend meetings and get involved. If they won’t attend this kind of event it isn’t fair for them to turn around and say they never see the police.

‘They’re here but sometimes it feels like no one takes any notice.’

Labour Cllr David Horne said one reason for the rock-bottom turnout could be that crime in Paulsgrove is lower than it once was.

He said: ‘Local people are worried about crime, but that is sometimes out of proportion to how much is really taking place.

‘The biggest problem round here is anti-social behaviour, but even that is low compared to in the past.

‘The police have done a good job here and they just need to carry on what they’re doing.’

The next opportunity to speak to neighbourhood watch representatives will be at a community day held next to Baffins Pond between noon and 4pm on Saturday June 18. For more information about Paulsgrove Safer Neighbourhoods team, call 101 or email paulsgrove.beats@hampshire.pnn.police.uk