Welcome bid to stamp out violence in city centre

Michael Eisner

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For anyone of a certain age emerging from the Guildhall or the New Theatre Royal after a performance, Guildhall Walk can be a shocking place.

It is a clubbers’ and drinkers’ paradise of pubs, bars and nightspots attracting young people from all over the area and their high jinx in the street often have to be seen to be believed.

And at that time, usually between 10pm and 11pm, the night is young. Go there at 2am and the atmosphere can be threatening with hints of violence commonplace from boozed-up women and men teetering and tottering around.

This short street in the heart of Portsmouth had achieved an unwanted tag of notoriety, not only in Portsmouth, Hampshire or the south, but also nationwide.

Last year, according to the government’s controversial crime reports website, the Guildhall Walk area was named and shamed as the most violent in England and Wales.

But today comes welcome news that there might be a glimpse of heartening light at the bottom of those pint and shot glasses and on the vomit-strewn pavements.

For in the past year reports of violent crime in Guildhall Walk and other nearby hotspot streets such as Stanhope and Commercial Roads have fallen by 20 per cent.

The figures are at their lowest since records started in 2006.

Why? Because, for once, the much-maligned ‘multi-agency’ approach has actually worked. And here it needed to.

We applaud the police, licensees, the city council, street pastors and street marshals for making a good start in quelling the alcohol-fuelled violence which was sullying Portsmouth’s much-improved reputation.

But there is a long way to go and there is no room for those different agencies to become complacent and rest on their laurels after one set of encouraging results.

Councillor Lynne Stagg, the chairwoman of the Safer Portsmouth Partnership, says the work must continue to make the city centre a safer and more attractive place.

She is right. The job has only just started.

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