'They were destroying an area of natural beauty': Vandals break into Hilsea Lido damaging picnic benches and children's artwork as police battle ongoing crime

VANDALS broke into Hilsea Lido and ran rampant despite an ongoing police crackdown on antisocial behaviour around the beloved leisure site.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 2:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 2:02 pm

Topless youths were captured on CCTV submerging broken picnic benches in the pool last Friday.

Andy Kircher, 52, saw the group as they terrorised the area between 4.30pm and 8pm.

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CCTV footage shows a gang of youths playing with broken fences and jumping into the swimming pool, at Hilsea Lido, on June 17.

‘They basically destroyed the whole area, everything in Hilsea Lido’, he told The News.

‘They smashed up all the children’s artwork all the way along the wall.

‘All the fences were broken, so they can walk in and out through there.

‘They were destroying an area of natural beauty.’

Andy Kircher said the youths had broken parts of the fence so they can climb through and gain access to the lido.

Mr Kircher is the operations director for Safevue CCTV, the company that installed cameras around the lido to stop vandalism.

The Hilsea resident said several groups entered the lido between last Wednesday and Friday.

He added he was verbally abused when he confronted this gang, who he saw jumping off the diving board while clinging to an office chair.

‘They shouted at me “My dad will come down here and smash your head in, you’ll let us do what we want."

Andy Kircher said the youths had 'destroyed' large parts of Hilsea Lido.

‘I have not gone back there since.

‘These youths have no discipline or respect for public property, and they just want to get away with it day in and day out.’

Mr Kircher said he has handed pictures of the children to the police, and said he has been ‘banging his head against a brick wall’ trying to keep Hilsea safe.

Police have been battling crime in the Hilsea area, as part of Operation Relief.

A dispersal order was issued in May, temporarily giving officers powers to move people on and ban them from returning.

Portsmouth police reported yesterday they have increase their presence – receiving more reports of assaults and criminal damage to buses.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, said the lido will be fully restored.

She said: ‘The lido is run by a team of volunteers.

‘I know how upset they will be at this thoughtless vandalism.

‘I hope the perpetrators are caught.’

Hilsea Ward councillor Scott Payter-Harris said he wants to name and shame those who caused such damage.

He told The News:‘The incidents don’t seem to stop, and I’m concerned they keep happening.

‘I don’t get why they are doing it, there’s no gain for them, it’s mindless.’