THE mayor of Fordingbridge has described the police response to break-ins at the town’s recreation ground as “very poor” and called for officers to visit the area more regularly.

Edward Hale was among several councillors to raise concerns about the number of bobbies on the beat, saying it was “unusual” to see police in the town these days.

Councillor Brian Perkins called on Fordingbridge Town Council to put more pressure on the police and crime commissioner or chief constable.

He said: “If we put pressure on we might get something.”

During a meeting of the council last week, Cllr Perkins said people in the town had spoken to him about shoplifting over Christmas and said he was told when they reported it to the police they “didn’t want to know”.

He added: “Everyone says it would be nice to see a police patrol occasionally in the high street walking up and down. You never see them.”

The meeting heard there had been break-ins at the recreation ground where work was being carried out on the pavilion.

Councillor Malcolm Adams said without police deterrents, seemingly low-level crimes could escalate. He said: “What concerns me is it may not be important in their eyes. Next time they [thieves] could be disturbed and kill somebody.”

Sergeant Helen Mitchley, of Hampshire Constabulary, said she would listen to concerns but three officers were based in Fordingbridge.

After the meeting Cllr Hale said: “One of the most regular complaints in Fordingbridge is about the lack of police. It is not long since we had our own Police Station with dedicated officers. Now it is very unusual for residents to see a police officer as most crimes are just allocated a code without any follow up.

“A resident contacted me to say there have been groups of children gathering around the town in breach of the lockdown rules, and others have said there is still drug dealing taking place. I realise the police are now far more stretched than in the past, but think the police could still visit our town more regularly to show a regular presence in Fordingbridge again.”

Sergeant Mitchley said: “We fully appreciate the views put forward by the local councillors and those of our local community. We currently have three officers based in Fordingbridge – two PCs and one PCSO – which forms our local Neighbourhood Policing Team.

"They review all crime in the local area that is reported to us via 101 or our online reporting tool – seeking to identify all possible lines of enquiry and follow-up opportunities with victims to bring offenders to justice.

“In relation to shoplifting offences in the area, we have conducted a thorough investigation of those offences. A man has been charged following the reports of two thefts and two assaults on store staff from Co-op on January 6. While there are a further two reports that are under investigation, with enquiries ongoing."

Sergeant Mitchley said officers had executed several warrants over the past three months and incidents of non-dwelling burglaries were a district “priority”. She said the recreation ground burglary was followed up with the policing team and “all lines of enquiry were completed with the support of the site manager”.

Sgt Mitchley added: “Our officers will be seeking to adapt our routine patrol plans for hot-spot areas in the community on the basis of information passed to us by local residents.

“There are also a number of new police officers and PCSOs joining the West district of the New Forest – so residents should see an increase in patrols moving forward.”

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