EXTRA security could be deployed across Romsey in a bid to crackdown on crime over Christmas.

Romsey town centre sees a peak in retail and street crime in the lead up to Christmas, with the activity often being undertaken by organised professional criminals who move into areas such as Romsey.

Now, community leaders from across Test Valley have revealed security guards could help patrol the streets over the festive season if the recommendation is approved by Romsey Future on Monday (October 12).

Chair of Romsey Future, Cllr Nick Adams-King, said: “I think we need to be doing everything we possibly can to help businesses at the moment.

“They have had a dreadful year and the probability of it being a busy Christmas period for them is not great.

“Anything we can do to support businesses and make them feel safe in the run-up to Christmas, and reduce any loss as a result of theft, is money well spent.”

He added business owners who are on the edge of the town centre “will feel more supported” if security guards can work with Romsey Town Council (RTC) and Romsey & District Chamber of Commerce and Industry to help cover these parts of town more regularly than previous years.

Cllr Adams-King stressed Romsey Future will work with Hampshire police to make sure it is clear what responsibilities the security guards will have, ensuring they do not “cover things the police are already covering this year”.

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Nick Adams-KingCllr Nick Adams-King

When asked how much the extra security could cost, Cllr Adams-King could not yet confirm a figure. However, he said last year £6,000 was spent on the scheme - £5,000 from Romsey Future and £1,000 from RTC.

Member of Romsey Future, Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, said: “I think we have got to do absolutely anything we can to support businesses because Romsey is a lovely market town with a number of independent shops and all of that brings visitors to the town.

“I cannot understand people who are professional criminals and make a living by going around places and stealing things.”

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Dorothy BaverstockCllr Dorothy Baverstock

Romsey town centre manager, Lisa Mortimer, said the scheme is still being discussed with Test Valley Borough Council, town centre businesses and Romsey Chamber of Commerce before a decision can be made.

As reported, a festive campaign to tackle shoplifting in Romsey resulted in a drop in reported offences last Christmas.

Operation Scrooge saw officers from Test Valley’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams carry out high-visibility patrols in town centres to deter shoplifters in the run-up to Christmas.

They also liaised with local businesses and worked with RTC and Test Valley Borough Council.

In December, police received 32 reports of shoplifting across the Test Valley district, down from 47 reports in December 2018 – a reduction of 32 per cent.