Cliffhanger car park in Highcliffe 'hotspot of anti-social behaviour and drug taking'
POLICE patrols are to be stepped up around Highcliffe’s Cliffhanger car park after it was claimed to be a "hotspot" of anti-social behaviour and drug-taking.
The Dorset force is also urging people to notify officers of any criminal activity they witness in the village as soon as possible after residents reported an increase in incidences.
Insp. Helen Deakin, of Christchurch police, said: “We have been made aware of concerns from residents in relation to anti-social behaviour, including noise issues and suspected drug taking, in the Cliffhanger car park.
“We are committed to working with partners and our local communities to addressing concerns in relation to anti-social behaviour and as a result local officers will be increasing patrols in the area.”
Highcliffe Residents Association had raised the alarm in a public statement that claimed it had been the police who had identified the Cliffhanger car park as a "hot spot location" for criminal behaviour.
But Insp. Deakin insisted this was not the case, saying: “In recent months we have not received any previous reports of crimes or anti-social behaviour in the vicinity.
In its statement, the HRA said it was receiving "frequent reports of increasing anti-social behaviour, vandalism and late-night noise nuisance in Highcliffe and Walkford”.
It said it had contacted local police for advice and asked for an increase in police patrols, especially late at night.
The HRA said it was "important" that any crime was reported promptly "so that victims can be offered the relevant support and crime prevention advice”.
That meant "fast-track investigative actions" could be carried out, including the preservation of forensic and CCTV evidence.
According to the HRA, reporting crimes would help the police to build up intelligence as to the nature of problems locally and target resources accordingly.
The HRA urged anyone who sees a crime in progress, or if anyone is at risk of immediate threat, or harm to dial 999.
Otherwise, they should report anti-social behaviour via the 101 phone number, the Dorset police website www.dorset.police.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The concern over anti-social behaviour came as Dorset Police announced a geographical restructuring in an effort to improve its service.
The force will be split into two local police areas with one covering the BCP Council region that includes Christchurch, headed by Ch. Supt Mark Callaghan.
The other will serve the Dorset County Council zone, led by Ch. Supt Steve Lyne.
Assistant chief constable Sam de Reya said: “By taking this approach we can focus in on the issues that our communities are facing and provide a robust, engaging, proactive and visible policing presence.
“We want to take this opportunity to form strong connections with our communities and partnership agencies so that we can properly listen, understand and respond to local issues and concerns."
The constabulary said that by "localising" policing resources across a range of services, including key areas such as neighbourhoods, investigations and safeguarding, it can work "more proactively with partners to strengthen plans and provide a local service that works for local people".
The force has already seen the addition of 50 new officers, with a target of a further 50 over the next year.