Targeted patrols tackle sex attacks and crime in Portsmouth

TARGETED police patrols are being carried out in a bid to cut down on sex attacks and violence over the festive season.

More people are pouring into bars and clubs for office parties and Christmas celebrations this month.

Superintendent Maggie Blyth. Picture:  Malcolm Wells (180320-8586)

Superintendent Maggie Blyth. Picture: Malcolm Wells (180320-8586)

Portsmouth district police commander Maggie Blyth said last year’s December crackdown saw a significant reduction in sexual assaults.

Speaking to The News yesterday, Supt Blyth said: ‘We want to be absolutely certain that we are meeting those vulnerable individuals’ needs in the city so they can feel safe as it gets closer to Christmas.’

Police are encouraging people to stay safe by telling friends where they are, be wary of accepting drinks from strangers, keep valuables out of sight and have your phone battery charged up.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Heelan added: ‘It’s about taking some responsibility for yourself about getting home – see your friends and have a great time – but don’t end up walking home on your own at 4am.’

PCSOs, volunteer special police, response and patrol officers and street pastors have been working together to crackdown on violent crime, robbery and sex attacks.

Last year Hampshire police's force support unit carried out targeted patrols but this team has been disbanded, with the roles spread out between neighbourhood police.

It comes as a 19-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in the early hours of Friday morning as she walked along the secluded pathway that runs parallel to Winston Churchill Avenue between Somers Road and the Somers Town hub.

Officers are hunting for the suspect.

Police expect a rise in alcohol-fuelled violence in hotspots each December, but also expect domestic abuse to increase.

And latest figures show violent incidents resulting in injuries have increased by nine per cent in the city.

But some of the most serious types of violence – including wounding and grievous bodily harm with intent assaults – have dropped from 30-35 a months in the summer to 12 as of November.

Around 40 per cent of this type of crime is linked to domestic abuse, with one per cent linked to drugs gangs.

Despite the focus on protecting people in nighttime hotspots, Supt Blyth is clear police will still tackle drugs gangs that blight the lives of people in the city.

‘We will continue our approach and continue protecting the vulnerable and reduce the high harm,’ Supt Blyth said.

‘That doesn’t change over the next few weeks at all.’