Government minister Kit Malthouse shown where Safer Streets Fund crime-busting cash will be spent in Portsmouth
A GOVERNMENT minister has been shown where money will be spent in Portsmouth city centre on crime-reduction measures.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse came to the city with Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones, to discuss the Safer Streets fund.
The fund will £324,851 spent in the Charles Dickens ward on street lighting, shrubbery removal and CCTV cameras.
But Mr Malthouse was not given approval from the Home Office to speak to the press – and so while he spoke to police officers and passing residents in the city centre, he remained tight-lipped in The News' company.
Mrs Jones, who was previously a Portsmouth City councillor, hopes that the Safer Streets funding will cut down on drug issues and violence around Arundel Street.
She said: ‘We were looking at areas in Charles Dickens where we need to take action to make the community safer – particularly to tackle drug dealing, drug-related harm and serious violence.
‘It’s jointly funded by my office and Portsmouth City Council, with government funding coming from the minister.
‘There’s more street lighting required and people go into the large bushes to take and deal drugs, so we need to replace those with trees and flowers that keep the area green but make it more difficult for drug users.’
Priority locations identified for interventions are Paradise Street, Crasswell Street, April Square, Arundel Street and park and Lake Road.
On Saturday, May 1, a 19-year-old was stabbed in Arundel Street in the early hours of the evening.
Spring-closing gates at the edges of parks and more CCTV have also been promised – with Mrs Jones insisting it is money well-spent due to the level of crime near the city centre.
‘It’s about looking at where the highest harm is and spending the money where it is most needed,’ she said.
‘But the third round of funding has already been announced and we will work with the local authority to provide CCTV where it is required.
‘In areas where there have been serious incidents – such as stabbings – then we will do what we can to make them safer.’
But Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, fears that without more police on the streets, investment into CCTV and other measures might not go far enough.
He said: ’A decade of cuts means Hampshire has lost more than 1,000 police officers since 2010, and we remain 400 short despite recent increases
‘Police workforce figures show our constabulary has just 135 officers per 100,000 people, the lowest of any force in the country.
‘Hampshire’s chief constable recently confirmed that underfunding means police responses have to be rationed – I hope Portsmouth residents will remind the minister and our police and crime commissioner to give us our bobbies back.’
Mrs Jones responded by saying that Hampshire Constabulary has recruited 256 new police officers since January 2020 – but could not say how many had been stationed in Portsmouth.
The Home Office has also been contacted by The News for comment, but Kit Malthouse did release a statement via the police and crime commissoner’s office.
He said: ‘We will not stand by while criminals inflict fear and misery on our communities – that is why the home secretary launched the Safer Streets Fund, to improve security in areas blighted by crimes like burglary, robbery and vehicle theft.’