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POLICE officers swapped their caps for party hats as they celebrated the festive season with victims of crime.

Police Community Support Officers from Waterlooville arranged for 33 elderly people to go for a free day out at The Woodpecker pub in London Road, Waterlooville.

Guest enjoyed a two-course Christmas dinner, followed by a crime prevention quiz and a raffle.

Every guest has been affected by some sort of crime this year, including burglary, theft, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour.

Among them was 89-year-old Irene McLennan-Newman, from Waterlooville, who had her purse stolen. ‘It’s a very nice thought,’ said Irene, who is from the Highlands of Scotland.

‘It’s the first time in my whole 90 years that I have been invited for a free lunch in a pub.

‘I haven’t been in a pub since I can’t remember when.

‘Everybody is quite jolly. It’s better than sitting about being miserable. You have to have a sense of humour to survive.’

The initiative, now in its second year, was paid for by funding from Havant Borough Council and other local agencies.

The event was organised by Lynda Potter, PCSO for Waterlooville north, and Jemma Burbury, PCSO for Waterlooville south.

PCSO Potter said: ‘Most of them are victims of burglary.

‘We have had a spate of burglaries recently.

‘They might not see anyone over Christmas or are on their own.

‘We are not in uniform and it’s good for them to get to know us as real people and then carry on that relationship when we visit them for a cup of tea.

‘They might feel happier about calling us again because we are more approachable.’

She wanted to thank The Woodpecker pub for laying on a great day for everyone.