Residents’ patrols proposed to fight village recreation ground crime problem

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Milford recreation ground
Police at Milford recreation ground in Barnes Lane after a break-in

NEIGHBOURS of a Milford recreation ground could be asked to undertake night time patrols in a bid to deter anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

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As previously reported in the A&T, intruders have broken in to the pavilion at Barnes Lane recreation ground several times in recent months, leaving a trail of drugs paraphernalia and broken glass strewn across the sports pitches.

The parish council recently asked Capstan Security to undertake a site visit with a view to installing CCTV and security lighting.

However, parish clerk Graham Wells explained that these would be unsuitable due to the low height of the building.

He said: “They suggested shutters over the main door could be helpful but that would be very expensive. Another option would be an intruder alarm which would go off for 15 minutes causing a bit of a racket.”

The parish council meeting heard the main perpetrator of the recent break-ins was currently in prison for five months on unrelated charges.

Mr Wells told councillors that despite social media evidence of the individual riding a parish council-owned tractor, plus a finger print search, the police had concluded there was not enough evidence for a prosecution.

Mr Wells said: “The police advice is that we make the building as secure as possible and then hope the perpetrators move on.”

Cllr Bob Bishop said: “The neighbours seem to be fairly invested in this – I wonder if the odd trip around the site at night would help to deter the problems.

“Maybe we could engage the neighbours and volunteers from the clubs in some regular patrols.

“I know in Keyhaven when there were thefts on the river – the neighbours started a nightly patrol and it was very effective. “

However, Cllr Matt Goode cautioned: “We need to be careful with this – often what we might consider anti-social behaviour is just teenagers being teenagers. It is very dangerous to alienate young people.”

Cllr Sue Whitlock added: “I feel it would be very sad if young people felt they could no longer go up there and use the pitches.”

Councillors agreed to contact New Forest District Council’s community safety team for advice about launching evening patrols of the recreation ground site.

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