A ‘shocking’ lack of police presence

Thursday 14th November 2019 9:16 am
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Mr Harness's van was badly damaged ()

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AN Alton man was left feeling “frightened and shook up” after Hampshire Constabulary took “12 hours” to respond to his 999 call.

Peter Harness, 37, was woken up at 2.15am by an alarm sounding on his Transit tipper van parked at Musgrove Gardens.

He went to investigate and found thieves “helping themselves” to his tools.

But when he shouted, they brazenly shone a torch in his face, used explicit language and told him to go “back indoors”.

As they began to make their escape, he dialled 999.

“The operator took my details and said Hampshire police would call me,” he explained.

“I think this shocked me more as I caught them in the act and the police made no effort to come round to investigate or even drive round the estate as I was up for the rest of the night looking out. They are a total let down.”

It wasn’t until Thursday (October 31) afternoon that officers finally arrived.

“The service they provide is shocking and is always blamed on lack of resources,” Mr Harness added.

“I’ve been left frightened and shook up with no reassurance from the police.”

This was part of a spate of similar incidents, with five reported in and around Alton the previous weekend.

Neighbourhood Inspector Pete Parkes said: “We did experience a series of vehicle break-ins overnight on November 2 and 3. This involved vans being targeted for work tools.”

He warned “all vehicle owners, but particularly van owners” to be vigilant and heed “common sense advice” to reduce the odds of becoming a victim.

“I can reassure the community that neighbourhood officers are aware of issues affecting the community and we focus our patrols in affected areas,” he added.

“But we also have extra resilience from our 24 hour Response and Patrol team based in Alton and the Roads Policing Unit.”

East Hampshire district councillor, Paula Langley, told the Herald: “As Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator for Alton and Alton Rural I would encourage everyone to join the scheme and our Alton Crime Prevention Facebook page.

“This is no substitute for actual officers on the beat but it can help to share useful information, especially on crime prevention.”

She personally agrees the district needs more police and recognises how stretched officers are.

“Hampshire have lost more than 1,000 police officers since 2010 bringing policing to its lowest level for over 20 years,” she added.

“Cuts to funding force our officers to set priorities, the current priority for Alton being residential burglary.”

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