Bar owner says rise in crime in Southsea has forced him to reduce his trade

The staff of Huis outside the bar
The staff of Huis outside the bar
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PERSISTENT crime and antisocial behaviour has forced a small business to reduce its hours – leading to jobs being lost and leaving its future hanging in the balance.

Huis, Portsmouth’s only Belgium bar, has been hit by crime – which owner Simon Docker says has cost them thousands of pounds.

One of the windows damaged during a recent break-in at Huis

One of the windows damaged during a recent break-in at Huis

Simon said the venue, in Elm Grove, has seen a series of break-ins in the past six months – the latest two happening on Monday and Tuesday last week.

He said: ‘We cannot afford to carry on with the kitchen. We will carry on with the bar side of things for the time being but three people have lost their jobs.

‘We cannot sustain the restaurant trade as it is more expensive to run. We’ve been trying to deal with the police for the past year about the situation but it has become everyday in Elm Grove.’

Simon, who used to run a technology company, set up the venue two years ago, investing £200,000 into it and converting it from a vintage clothes shop.

He estimated he has spent £4,000 in the past six months cleaning up after incidents – and a further £1,000 installing extra security measures.

He said: ‘We have been here two years now and it’s definitely getting worse.

‘It has made our business unviable. We have put so much money in but we are now considering our future. It’s not great.’

The bar-restaurant currently has a team of 10 – six front-of-house staff and four in the kitchen. Three of the kitchen staff will be losing their jobs and the reduced opening hours means the others have also had their hours cut.

The bar will no longer open on weekday daytimes from April 5. But Simon said they would be carrying on with the bar trade weekday evenings and at weekends.

He called for the police to do more to crack down on crime in the Southsea area, which he says has risen over the past year with incidents of drug dealing, burglaries, anti-social behaviour and prostitution.

A spokeswoman from Hampshire Constabulary said they were investigating three of the break-ins.

The first took place overnight on January 9 and saw £400 of petty cash stolen from the kitchen.

The second happened overnight on Monday, March 20. The window was smashed and a till containing £150 stolen.

The latest incident happened between 1am and 10am on Tuesday, March 21 and saw the back of the premises broken in and £400 worth of stock – including 31 bottles of Prosecco and a bottle of champagne – stolen.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting reference 44170105439.