EXTRA security costing is set to 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 will help patrol the streets over the festive season after the recommendation was approved by Romsey Future on Monday (October 12).

It is believed £6,000 will be put forward to fund the scheme, with £5,000 coming from Romsey Future and £1,000 from Romsey Town Council (RTC).

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 the security guards will be encouraged to be more visible around small retailers shopfronts, claiming he had been told by a couple of hairdressers they "never saw" security patrolling by their businesses in previous years.

He also emphasised 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”.

Member of Romsey Future, Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, said she was "delighted" the scheme was given the green light.

She added: "The most important thing that happened last year was the extra security didn't only make the shopkeepers feel secure, but a number of residents said they felt safer going around the town.

"Some purses were stolen last year, but if these criminals can see security officers going around the town then they may think twice about doing it."

It is not yet known what security company will be selected for the scheme.

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.