MORE police patrols are needed in Portsmouth city centre to tackle rough sleeping, begging and shoplifting.
That’s the message to Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes from the council, following a rise in homelessness in the city.
The council says as of last autumn there were 15 rough sleepers in the city’s main shopping area, up from eight a year earlier.
Though taking the city’s population into account, the number of rough sleepers in Portsmouth is only slightly above the English average, and smaller than in areas such as Brighton, Bournemouth or Southampton.
But Tory deputy leader Luke Stubbs has written to Mr Hayes asking for help.
Cllr Stubbs said: ‘Over the past four or five months, there has been a dramatic increase in begging, rough sleeping and shoplifting in and around Commercial Road.
‘The problem in Portsmouth is not as severe as in neighbouring areas.
‘But it is still having an impact on our city centre. The amount of people visiting Commercial Road was significantly down in the first two months of this year, while the corresponding figures for Southsea and Cosham shopping area show a modest increase.
‘This could be a result of people feeling intimidated.
‘I know the powers the police have to deal with these issues are limited and I accept there are no easy answers. But in Southampton and Winchester, Hampshire Constabulary deploys extra resources to patrol the central commercial areas and this seems to keep the problem under control.’
Council leader Donna Jones has written to the city’s MPs asking them to raise concerns in government.