Hampshire police downplay violent crime fears in Portsmouth as a former chief inspector says: ‘It’s never been worse’

A POLICE chief has insisted violent crime in the area is on the decline despite a spate of stabbings and a shooting since the year began.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 1:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 1:18 pm
Chief Inspector Rob Mitchell has sought to reassure the community of Portsmouth following a number of violent incidents in the city.
Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-2149)
Chief Inspector Rob Mitchell has sought to reassure the community of Portsmouth following a number of violent incidents in the city. Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-2149)

Chief Inspector Rob Mitchell was adamant the area had not been gripped by a surge of violence despite worried residents raising fears about their safety.

His comments come after a 31-year-old man was stabbed twice during a bloody attack in Lynton Grove, Copnor, on Easter Saturday.

While last month a man was stabbed during a ferocious fight in block of flats in Leigh Park which left blood splattered all over doors, floors and walls of the Greywell Heights complex, in Dunsbury Way.

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PCSOs from Hampshire Police patrolling Lynton Grove where the stabbing took place last night. Photo: Tom Cotterill

And earlier, in February, a police officer was stabbed in the back while he was patrolling a Stamshaw Park, just days before a 21-year-old man was shot in the leg outside a house in Hudson Road, Southsea.

Now Chief Insp Mitchell said: ‘We understand that it can be worrying for the public when there are violent incidents in the city, such as the stabbing in Copnor on Saturday. However, I would like to reassure the community that this was an isolated, targeted incident and an arrest has been made.

‘Furthermore I would like to reassure the public that crime levels have reduced in the city over the past year and that the levels of knife crime are low in Portsmouth, as well as in the rest of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

‘However, tackling violence remains a key priority for the force and we take knife crime very seriously. Our work around tackling knife offences is on-going daily business, arresting those who carry knives and confiscating dangerous weapons.’

However, a retired Chief Inspector has hit back and said violent crime is worse now than it’s ever been.

Councillor Ken Ellcome - who spent 30 years as a police officer in Hampshire before retiring in 1995 - said: ‘People that are worried in Portsmouth have a point.

‘There’s definitely more violent crime now than there was 30 years ago.

‘When I was younger many disagreements used to be sorted out with fist fights.

‘Now it’s knives and guns and God knows what else.’

The former Lord Mayor of Portsmouth questioned the police statistics and claimed the figures might not be truly representative of the level of crime in the county.

He said: ‘Like all of these things it depends on what spin you put on it.

‘The figures say that crime is going down but that’s probably because not all crimes are recorded like it used to be - the criteria has changed over the years.’

He added people of Portsmouth were ‘not being served as well by the police as they used to be’ because of the savage cuts to officer numbers over the years, which he said had led to some crimes ‘not even being investigated anymore’.

Chief Insp Mitchell said officers were ‘working in partnership with communities’ to try and ‘educate’ people about knife crime and how to prevent it.

But he admitted police still needed the public’s help to detect crime and urged the people of Portsmouth to contact neighbourhood policing officers on 101  if they see anything ‘suspicious’.

‘This type of information helps us to build a real picture of what is going on and where we need to focus our resources,’ he added.