Crime commissioner launches new task force to clampdown on anti-social thugs plaguing Hampshire
GANGS of thugs that terrorise hardworking families across the county are to be targeted by a new anti-social behaviour task force.
The new hardline approach was announced today by Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones as the first of her flagship policies to clampdown on county-wide disorder.
It will unite police chiefs and district leaders, council bosses and housing associations to identify key hotspots and create a strategy to tackle them.
Commissioner Jones hopes the new organisation will help drive down ‘long-term, systemic’ problems, such as criminality on Southsea Common, youths risking their lives tombstoning off the Hotwalls or street drinking and vandalism,
‘Residents and businesses across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have told me that they are concerned about the growing rise of anti-social behaviour,’ Mrs Jones said.
‘Vandalism, street drinking, irresponsible driving and other unacceptable behaviours leave people feeling alarmed, harassed or distressed, and ultimately unsafe in their local community.
‘As police and crime commissioner, I take this very seriously and working with partners to tackle anti-social behaviour will be a priority.’
News of the group comes as the UK marks its first ever National Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness week, which began today.
Figures released from the police and crime commissioner’s office revealed that between April 1 2020 and March 31, 2021, there were a total of 37,325 anti-social behaviour reports, with alcohol, drugs and youth-related incidents being the most common in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Chief Inspector Dave Humphries, head of local policing delivery unit with Hampshire Constabulary, is part of the new task group.
He said: ‘Anti-social behaviour is often downplayed and seen as low level or unimportant but the reality is ASB can cause misery to people’s lives and affect whole communities.’
As part of the new ‘small and focused’ team, stakeholders and partners will be invited to attend briefings to discuss specific problems that require action beyond policing alone.
Commissioner Jones said this could include rolling out powers under anti-social behaviour laws, like dispersal orders.
But it could also extend to a ‘softer’ approach, including outreach programmes in the community, installing CCTV to help prevent crimes and increased policing in certain trouble spots.
‘While some people view anti-social behaviour as a lower level type of crime, the outcomes can be very, very damaging either to the individual or the community,’ Mrs Jones told The News.
‘Take the Hotwalls for example. Anti-social behaviour has been a massive issue there and a real blight on the lives of people that live in that immediate area, with people tombstoning.’
The commissioner and Chief Inspector Humphries will be answering questions about anti-social behaviour and the new taskforce live on the Hampshire Constabulary Facebook page on Wednesday at 6.30pm.