Youngsters jumping into the sea at Old Portsmouth are told: '˜You are risking your life'

RECKLESS youngsters flinging themselves off Portsmouth's historic battlements into the Solent are putting their lives at risk.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 10:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 10:23 pm

That's the view of councillors and locals after a surge in the number of children leaping from the Hot Walls into the sea during high tide.

Children as young as eight are taking on the dangerous activity, which has left residents worried.

In the past few weeks, city council officers have called on the MoD police to intervene. On one occasion The News witnessed two council officials being hit with a torrent of verbal abuse from teenagers who refused to heed warnings not to jump from the Old Portsmouth walls.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

'˜We're kids and we will do what we want,' one of the youngsters shouted at the two council workers, who were patrolling the Hot Walls.

The issue is the latest in a string of anti-social behaviour problems to blight the area, including fights, drunken behaviour and noisy disorder. Councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for children's services at the city council, said the authority was looking to take action.

He said: '˜Youngsters who jump off the edge don't know how deep it is. We're worried that others who may know how deep it is will jump off and be an example for others who will jump off and cause themselves injuries.

'˜We already know there's strong tides around here and that some children can get into trouble and adults going near them may get into trouble themselves.

'˜So this is about being consistent for everybody - there is one rule for all which is 'no jumping'.'

Sarah Jenkins, of Havant, was walking along the Hot Walls and witnessed some of the behaviour, which she described as '˜dangerous'.

'˜It needs to stop, it would be so easy for them to get hurt,' she said. '˜What would happen if they broke a leg or worse? They could put someone else's life at risk if they need saving.'

Cllr Wood said: '˜The city council are working with the police and others to ensure firstly we engage with youngsters. I will be doing the same at schools. We're looking at engaging with them and putting some sort of activity that will help them with their risk-taking activities in a safer environment.'

CATALOGUE OF PROBLEMS AT SUMMER HOT SPOT

The catalogue of misdemeanours raised by besieged locals is said to have spilled over into violence, including a vicious attack recently when a group of German tourists with their teacher were set upon by a baying mob of drunks yobs.

Earlier in the summer residents said there was a brawl involving 150 teenagers from different areas of the city '” including girls '” who had arranged to meet over social media and fight out their differences. On another occasion a teenage girl reportedly threw a used tampon in the face of a woman who asked her to stop smoking cannabis in the public toilet.

Attempts to quell the nuisance behaviour has resulted in a multi-agency response including Hampshire police, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire Fire Service and coastguards as they attempt to keep a lid on the problems.

But residents feel not enough is being done. One said: '˜Old Portsmouth is a lawless and unregulated zone.

'˜I witnessed a horrific attack outside the square wh en a drugged woman was punching various people in the head.'

Another added: '˜It all sounds very nice having new CCTV, extra patrols and surgeries but at the end of the day it means absolutely nothing if you don't implement them. Is it going to take a serious injury before they wake up to it?'

Sgt Rob Sutton, who used to be on the beat in Old Portsmouth, said: '˜If we move them we are just moving the problem to a different area. Having a feature like the Lido would help.'