Fareham council to spend £70,000 on two security guards to tackle drug taking and begging in the town centre
UP to £70,000 is to be spent on two security guards to tackle begging and drug-taking in a busy town centre.
A team of two security guards will patrol Fareham town centre for 37 hours per week, as part of a 12-month trial scheme announced at Fareham Borough Council executive meeting.
Both of the officers will have the power to move on anyone found begging, demand an individual's name and address, and seize alcohol and tobacco from underage individuals.
Anyone resisting or obstructing the officers as they go about their duties could face a criminal prosecution.
The patrols will be 'nibbling away' at the problem of crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre, according to Councillor Trevor Cartwright, executive member for health and public protection.
He said: 'It's also an opportunity to signpost other services to people begging and found using drugs, so they can be told where they can go for help.'
In June, the council hosted a special public meeting on crime in the town centre, where police officers and council staff heard from residents exasperated by drug taking and begging in the area.
The Rev Roger Jackson had said his parish of St Peter and St Paul faced a 'persistent problem' with needles being discarded on the church grounds - but since then the problem has 'got better.'
He said: 'Regarding the churchyard, things have got better, since the time of the last meeting - whether the meeting made a difference, I'm not sure.'
Another resident of the town centre, who attended the previous meeting and asked not be named, said the patrols seemed like 'a good idea.'
They said: 'It may be better to have designated people in the area, rather that just having a random patrol vehicle from the police.’
Cllr Cartwright said the police in the area remained 'stretched,' but more police officer street patrols were planned.
A special public meeting on crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre will be held in Ferneham Hall at 6pm on Tuesday, October 15.