Police want Portsmouth toilets locked at night to stop anti-social behaviour
DRUG addicts causing problems at a block of toilets at the new Hard Interchange could be stopped if the doors are locked, an experienced police officer has said.
Sgt Rob Sutton said officers are being called to the site at The Hard '“Â a problem that has arisen since the Â£7m redevelopment opened earlier this year.
While Sgt Sutton praised Portsmouth City Council for the work, he added:Â '˜The byproduct is where they've situated a lot of publicly-accessible toilets, which is not in the interchange building '“Â it's a separate standalone building '“Â at night those those toilets are now attracting no end of anti-social behaviour.
'˜They're being used by people taking drugsÂ throughout the evening and late into the night.'
But Sgt Sutton said the problem could be stopped if the council shut the toilets in the evening. He said beggars outside the Co-op nearby are also causing problems.
'˜We've had a lot of complaints from the retailers who get complaints fromÂ residents andÂ taxi drivers because there's the taxi rank there,' he said.
'˜The drivers see the comings and goings and suspicious behaviour, what they suspect is drug dealing, with people going into the toilets and coming back out.'
Officers are working with council wardens but Sgt Sutton added: '˜Locking the toilet doors would stop people using the toilets for the purpose for what they're not designed for.'
Sgt Sutton said help is signposted for homeless people and those with substance misuse problems.
Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: '˜The toilets at the taxi rank near the interchange are open 24 hours, and have been designed to reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour, compared to the previous ones.
'˜We're working with police on this issue and are happy to consider closing the toilets during the night. ButÂ we have to balance the risk of anti-social behaviour with the need to provide facilities for the public, including taxi drivers and people leaving bars and restaurants.'
YasminÂ Ghesuda works at theÂ The Ship Leopard Boutique Hotel at The Hard. She said: '˜IÂ see the same people going in and out of the toilets during the day and at night. It's mainly homeless people that are doing drug deals, it's not hard to work out what they're doing.'