Call for action over ‘escalation’ of serious violent crime in Portsmouth

Police in Landsdowne Street, Southsea on Sunday after two men were stabbed Picture: UKNIP
Police in Landsdowne Street, Southsea on Sunday after two men were stabbed Picture: UKNIP
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CONCERNS have been raised over the sharp rise in serious crime in Portsmouth after several stabbings and murder investigations were launched by police.

In just nine months, detectives have investigated two murders, a 17-year-old girl was brutally attacked with a hammer and stabbings linked to drug-dealing have taken place, leaving residents concerned.

My concern is 2016 and the escalation we’ve had this year over the last nine months

Council leader Donna Jones

In two stabbings – in Alhambra Road, Southsea on September 15 and in Highland Road, Southsea, on September 12 – six men suffered stab wounds.

Figures show violent crimes in Portsmouth are higher than comparable cities at 38 offences per 1,000 population, for the year ending March 2016.

The figures, which are higher than Southampton’s figures at 37 per 1,000, were released on the crime maps website and also include sex offences.

Statistics also show police recorded an average of 9.76 violent and sex offence crimes for every 1,000 of the population in Portsmouth for the quarter ending March 2016 – double the figure for March 2014 and far higher than the Hampshire average.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the city council, is set to meet the city’s police commander, Supt Will Schofield to discuss the crime rise.

‘If you average out over the last five years we’d have average (crime levels),’ said Cllr Jones. ‘My concern is 2016 and the escalation we’ve had this year over the last nine months.

‘I’m going to meet him (Supt Schofield) to talk about the causes of crime going up and also if we can find a joint strategy. We know that with some of the serious crime, with Waverley Road, it’s linked to houses of multiple occupancy.

‘I’ll be asking is there a way that we can help the police to ensure neighbourhoods are as safe as possible and not create problem areas.’

Figures show offences of possession of offensive weapons have increased to 0.21 per 1,000 population in the quarter ending March 2016, almost double from March last year. Robberies have remained at the same level at 0.16 per 1,000 population.

Overall crime has dropped to 3,815 in Portsmouth, according to the force’s May performance profile, down from 3,929 the previous year.

The figures show violence against people resulting in injury dropped to 514, down from 588 last year.

Supt Schofield said: ‘Portsmouth has seen some serious assaults in recent months, but there is no pattern.

‘Whenever serious assaults take place, we work closely with partner agencies to understand the underlying causes so we can tackle these effectively. Most of these are not connected and the causes are varied from domestic disputes, other disputes between parties known to each other, street encounters between strangers, and some have been linked with drug supply.’

He said officers launched Operation Build earlier this year to help people who were being exploited by drug dealers and stop dealers from getting access to them.

Police and crime commissioner Michael Lane said: ‘When asked specifically about serious and violent crime, for me any kind of physical abuse is a priority, to mitigate it or deal with it where it has occurred.

‘There are grants in place from my commissioning fund that seek to support activity in communities for that purpose.’

Catalogue of attacks and murder have sparked concern

VIOLENT crimes have sent shockwaves through communities after people have been seriously hurt.

* Christopher Butler, 27, was murdered by Brendon Willis, 34, in a shared housing in Waverley Road, Southsea overnight on December 31 to January 1. Willis killed him just to know what killing was like. He was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years.

* James Hemming, 28, of Unicorn House, Cross Street admitted a brutal hammer attack against a 17-year-old girl at an address in Fratton in April. He has so far not given a motive. Hemming was initially arrested over attempted murder but in court admitted wounding with intent.

* Three men were arrested after a man in his 20s suffered ‘serious leg injuries’ in a stabbing in Waverley Road, Southsea, at 8.30m on September 4. A 38-year-old man from Southsea had been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

* Jamie Walker, 28, was found dead after falling from a window in Outram Road. A man, 28, was held over murder and bailed until November 17.

* Three men were arrested after they and a fourth man suffered stab wounds in a ‘targeted assault’ in Highland Road, Southsea, on September 12. A man, 20, from Southsea, was arrested on suspicion of GBH with intent. Two other men, 20 and 21 from Southsea, were arrested on suspicion of affray.

* Two men in their 20s were seriously injured and one of them stabbed in the legs in Alhambra Road, Southsea, on September 15. Police arrested a man in his 20s, of no fixed address but who is not local, has been arrested, on suspicion of being concerned in an offer to supply class A drugs. He was bailed until November 14.

* On Sunday a 24-year-old man was put in an induced coma after being stabbed in Landsdowne Street when a dispute in a house spilled out into the road. A second man was also injured. A man, 30, from Southsea, was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and another man, 26, also from Southsea, was arrested on suspicion of GBH with intent. They were bailed until December 2.