City MP calls for '˜clamp down' on small business crime in open letter to council leader

Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 6:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 7:12 am
The smashed glass in the door at Johnny Black Photography in Southsea
The smashed glass in the door at Johnny Black Photography in Southsea

A CITY MP has said more must be done to clamp down on break-ins and burglaries at small businesses.

In a letter penned to city council leader Donna Jones, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has suggested the local authority must work harder to assist police in deterring potential offenders.

It comes after the front door of Johnny Black Photography in Vincent Road, Southsea, was smashed after an attempted break-in at the weekend – adding to the long list of independent city traders hit by crime over the past 12 months.

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The smashed glass in the door at Johnny Black Photography in Southsea

In correspondence addressed to Cllr Jones on January 15, Labour MP Mr Morgan, said: ‘Having spoken to a number of small business owners, it is clear that more must be done to clamp down on these offences and provide the basic security required for our local economy to prosper.

‘I am interested in what steps the council can take to assist our overstretched police officers and deter potential offenders.

‘I would urge you, for example, to utilise the council’s CCTV network to help tackle this problem.’

The call for action has been backed by business bosses in Southsea, who have witnessed first-hand the impact being victimised by crime can have on trade.

The smashed glass in the door at Johnny Black Photography in Southsea

Johnny Black said: ‘I am supportive of what Stephen has said – this is out of control and it is getting scary.

‘Many of those who have been targeted by these criminals are my friends.

‘As business owners, we need to be able to feel safe in our own city.’

Simon Docker owns Huis, Southsea’s only Belgian bar – which has been hit by a series of break-ins over the past year.

Mr Docker said: ‘These incidents have impacted our business hugely and, in spite of them, we are just about breaking even.

‘I’m all for anything that makes this area safer, including the use of more CCTV.’

While Johnny Black Photography was struck just days ago, police say they have seen a ‘significant reduction’ in crimes targeting small city businesses after implementing a ‘dedicated operation’ last year.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: ‘This has involved proactive engagement with the community, strong response and support from the community to improve the security of their premises, plus several persons being arrested and detained as a result of our enquiries.’

Reflecting on Mr Morgan’s suggestion of a greater use of city CCTV, they added: ‘Any improvement in security and surveillance assists investigation and public confidence.’

Addressing the use of CCTV to crack down on small business crime, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones – who yesterday said she had not yet read Mr Morgan’s letter – explained: ‘The council works closely with police and we have a shared CCTV network that covers all the major shopping districts and high streets in Portsmouth.’

Hampshire Police and Crime Comissioner Michael Lane is set to reply to Mr Morgan’s letter personally, after the MP described his response to previous correspondence as ‘inadequate.’