Councillor claims residents 'scared to go out of their homes' in areas of Hilsea as officers step up patrols to combat crime

OFFICERS are increasing patrols in areas of Hilsea to tackle anti-social behaviour as a councillor claims residents are 'scared to go out of their homes'.

Friday, 27th May 2022, 4:55 am

Hampshire police started employing an increased presence this weekend as part of Operation Relief.

They have been tasked to put more people in areas including Howard Road, Alex Way, Northern Parade, London Road, and the foreshore.

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St Francis Church, in St Francis Crescent, Hilsea, had one of its outside walls brought down by vandals. Police launched Operation Relief over the weekend, increasing officer patrols in the areas of Howard Road, Northern Parade, London Road, Alex Way, and the foreshore. GV.

Councillor Scott Payter-Harris, of Hilsea ward, said gangs and people riding mopeds overnight were frightening people.

He told The News: ‘It’s a really good thing because residents have been telling us they’re scared to go out of their homes.

‘Anti-social behaviour is something we’ve been hearing about for a long time.

‘The residents have been telling us gangs of people have been walking round the streets at night, which is causing a significant problem.

The Warden of St Francis Church, June Charman, said less people have been turning up to evening services. She assumes some of it is down to increased crime.

‘It’s intimidating for people.’

Cllr Payter-Harris added the increased patrols to made to ‘combat the behaviour that has been going on’.

He said the Hilsea Community Centre, on Howard Road, was broken into and ‘substantially’ vandalised at the end of last month.

The councillor commented that he was ‘delighted’ that the operation was taking place.

Councillor Scott Paytor-Harris, of Hilsea ward, said Hilsea Community Centre, in Howard Road, was 'substantially' vandalised at the end of April. Picture: Google Street View.

He said: ‘They’re listening to what the residents are telling them, and that’s reassuring.’

‘The extra police presence will have a positive effect on what is going on in the area, it will definitely help.’

Two suspects were arrested on suspicion of drug related offences in the Howard Road area on Saturday – both released under investigation.

One Normandy Road resident said incidents of vandalism – things thrown at houses – drug dealing, and racial abuse, among others, have been going on for years.

She had lived in the area for 12 years, but is moving to Stamshaw, as she could not handle what was happening anymore.

‘There are kids on motorbikes riding around with no registration, who are far too young to ride them,’ she said.

‘It’s not safe at night.

‘I’m moving away, as it’s getting worse and worse and worse, and I’m done with it.’

Another resident, of Hilsea Crescent, said: ‘There are crowds of kids all the time.

‘It’s terrible round here.

‘Over the weekend, there were loads of police, and it’s needed.’

One local said he had noticed more officers patrolling the roads, and said it has helped the area.

June Charman, the warden of St Francis Church, knows incidents of anti-social behaviour all too well.

Vandals knocked down the wall outside their place of worship on Easter Sunday.

The Oakwood Road resident said: ‘You just don’t know if the other wall will stay up.

‘We’ve had to close some services during the evenings, as less people come out.

‘Some of them don’t feel safe.

Michael Charman, of Oakwood Road, said vandals ‘smashed up the wall’ at roughly 8pm.

He explained: ‘I was told by people that they kept going at the wall until it went, and no one challenged them.

‘There should be more officers here.

‘On some of the streets opposite the church, you could smell cannabis all day.

‘The retired people who live round here shouldn’t have to deal with that.’

A police spokeswoman said: ‘Operation Relief has been launched in response to an increase in reports of anti-social behaviour in Howard Road, Hilsea.

‘Such reports include criminal damage, drugs-related activity and various public order offences.

‘Officers will be targeting this activity in the upcoming weeks and will be patrolling the area in the evening as well as in the day.

‘We will focus our patrols at times when they are needed most. For this reason we would encourage local residents to keep reporting any incidents to us as it will help our patrol plans and will allow us to be in the area at the times we are needed most.

‘We know from having spoken to residents in the area how much anti-social behaviour can have a negative impact on people’s lives and this is simply not acceptable.

‘We would like to reassure local residents that this is one of our priorities and we are committed to tackling this type of behaviour in the area. We will be working to disrupt those involved and deal with them accordingly, while working with our partners on a longer term solution.

‘If the local community has any concerns or questions then please do come and speak to our patrolling officers when you see them.’

Incidents can be reported on 101 or here.