Police vow to be robust if rioting comes to our city

Malicious letters detailing allegations against man being sent to homes in Portsmouth

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POLICE officers are being run ragged as they work round-the-clock to combat riots and keep communities safe.

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter praised officers working round-the-clock in our area and London – but warned the situation is unsustainable.

He said: ‘We have officers on 12-hour shifts back to back. All rest days have been cancelled until Monday.

‘We’ve had no complaints but officers are saying they’re tired.

‘Some who went to London are working 22-hour shifts.

‘I heard of officers who were doing 25-hour shifts, coming back to the station, sleeping for an hour in the corridor and going back on the streets.

‘That’s admirable and the right thing to do in a national crisis, but it’s not sustainable.’

Mr Apter also urged the government to think again about police budget cuts, or face a crisis in 2015, when the number of officers is due to have been slashed by more than 300.

He said: ‘I understand and would expect officers to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in while there’s a national emergency but there comes a time when they need time out because they are human beings, they get tired, they can make mistakes – they can make themselves ill.

‘If the government is hell-bent on cuts it must take a fresh look at police numbers because in three years’ time when Hampshire has so many less officers, resilience is not going to be there.’

Hampshire Constabulary will continue to send specialist officers to help the Met in London until at least Tuesday when the situation is reviewed. Chief superintendent David Peacock insisted there were still no problems in the county connected to violence elsewhere in England.

And Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt told The News she does not believe any rioting will take place, and that Portsmouth should be used as an example to other parts of the country.

The Tory MP said: ‘We are a tight-knit community. People care about their neighbours. If people are in need, others step in to help. That’s why we shouldn’t see scenes like others across the country, where communities turned on people close to them.

‘We must punish those who did that, but we also must look at how to strengthen communities, so it doesn’t happen again. Portsmouth is certainly an example to others in that.’

Ms Mordaunt spoke in Thursday’s Parliamentary debate on the riots, citing youth schemes in Portsmouth as a way to build community links.

She said: ‘The city’s running one of 12 national citizenship programmes, where young people look at ways to improve their communities. It’s helping them work with people they might not otherwise meet, to understand and improve what’s going on in their city. It’s a way to involve them and give a real stake in their area.’

n The first person in Hampshire charged with inciting violent disorder linked to posts on Facebook appeared in court yesterday.

Mitchel Stancombe, 20, of Kingsley Gardens, Totton, was released on bail to reappear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court in October.