ROMSEY community leaders and residents are calling for Hampshire police to step up patrols in the centre of town in a bid to tackle crime.

Officers from Romsey’s Neighbourhood Policing Team revealed a number of searches and extra patrols were carried out in the Tavistock Close area after they were alerted to drugs being used this month.

Now residents are urging for there to be a stronger police presence in Romsey to stop drug use and anti-social behaviour from getting “out of control”.

Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: “I have been going on and on about the lack of police in Romsey for over two years now.

“I believe in having community police and local people want to know who their police officer is, because we have had robberies, anti-social behaviour and the War Horse has been damaged.

“We have had all sorts happening and I just think it is time the government wake up to the fact that they do have to put more resources into policing, because if they do not then it is going to get out of control.”

Cllr Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Tadburn on the borough council, said: “I think the problem is that Romsey has a reputation for being a safe place and there are not many police officers around; people who misbehave tend to come up to Romsey.

“Any increase in patrols by the police is really appropriate, as people are always reassured by seeing police on their streets.

“There has always been little areas in Romsey where there have been problems, like the bus station, and police will focus on them, but then these people move to a new location.”

He added: “Recently, there has been a lot of issues in our War Memorial Park and it does need some police attention.

“We must keep on top of it, because people who pay for their taxes and police precepts will get upset by it otherwise.”

A spokesperson from Hampshire Constabulary said: “Officers in Romsey’s Neighbourhood Policing Team work tirelessly to tackle offenders in the town and protect the public.

“Romsey remains one of the safest places in the force area, but we know the effect crime can have on our community.

“We were quickly alerted to the damage at the War Horse memorial by Romsey Town Council, and we have increased patrols in the area as part of our enquiries.

“We’d still encourage anyone with information on what happened to contact us, either via the 101 number or our website.”

They added: “Our investigation into burglaries at five restaurants in Romsey and North Baddesley remain ongoing, and we increased our patrolling in Woodley following a report of anti-social behaviour.

“Earlier this week, a man was charged as part of our investigation into a robbery at a betting shop in the town.

“The team, based in Romsey, will continue to do all it can, including working with partners, to reduce offending and keep people safe.

“Members of the public can help by reporting crime to us, so that we can build on our intelligence picture and target our resources.”

The searches happened on February 1 and 2.

It is not known what type of drugs were reported to Hampshire police.