PLANS to have security guards across Romsey have been unveiled.

At least two security officers could be patrolling the town centre next month in a bid to prevent shoplifting over the Christmas period.

This comes after figures published earlier this year revealed that shops in Hampshire have seen a rise in shoplifting over the past year, with the county being one of the worst in the UK.

The plans, which are still being finalised, were proposed by Dorothy Baverstock and John Ray, both councillors for Romsey Cupernham ward. They said this comes after local shopkeepers reported a number of shoplifting incident in the past few months.

Cllr Ray said: “We both felt Romsey was seen as an easy target so that is why we need to have a visual presence to deter shoplifters.”

The initiative is expected to be given the go-ahead this week. Its cost as well as the exact number of security guards who will be patrolling the town centre every day has not yet been revealed.

Cllr Baverstock, mayor of Romsey, said: “I’m very aware the town centres are fragile with the change in people’s shopping habits and I have to do everything that I possibly can to support local businesses and local shops because our unique shops are what makes our town such a pleasant place for people to visit and for us to live in.”

Cllr Baverstock said the initiative will protect businesses and shoppers.

“Our police are endeavouring to do a wonderful job struggling with the cuts to community officers and PCSOs and we want to support them as much as we can and we want everyone to have a lovely shopping experience in Romsey,” Cllr Baverstock added.

According to figures released by online marketplace and in June, in the 12 months to April, Hampshire Constabulary saw an eight per cent increase to 13,590 recorded incidents.

As a result, the force ranked seventh in the country for the level of shoplifting, the Metropolitan Police Service topping the table with more than 46,000 incidents.

The scheme in Romsey, which would run from December 1, would be funded by Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. Local shopkeepers will also be asked to contribute.

Cllr Nick Adams-King, deputy leader at Test Valley Borough Council, said: “Because the bigger shopping centres have become more difficult to target, the people targeting theses shops are heading to smaller towns.

“Currently through the Christmas period there are a number of businesses that are vulnerable and if we are able to provide additional support we have to try it. I think it is a good initiative, we have to see how it goes.”