One-night vandalism spree in Ringwood sparks call for more police in town
“WE need more police” – this was a Ringwood councillor’s message after the town was hit by a string of criminal damage incidents in one night.
A convenience store’s front windows were smashed, cars wrecked and donated food from a community store strewn across a car park during Saturday night’s vandalism.
Town and district councillor John Haywood called for more resources to be given to local officers, saying the continued trouble “harms the feeling of trust in society”.
Police are investigating the incidents, which included glass doors and large windows smashed at Morrisons Daily on Hightown Road.
Two cars also had their windows smashed on Whitehart Fields in the Poulner area around 12.40am on Sunday morning.
A windscreen and a mirror were broken on two vehicles on Parsonage Barn Lane between midnight and 1am.
Ringwood Community Fridge, which only recently celebrated saving more than 85 tonnes of unwanted produce from landfill to donate, was also hit.
Donated tubs of coleslaw were scattered over the car park outside its Ringwood Library base.
Residents took to social media to slam the “disgusting behaviour” and shared frustration at what they saw as a lack of police action.
One wrote: “Clearly this person is bored! He will do it again and probably won't get caught.”
As reported in the A&T, a town council survey on safety concerns revealed an “intense dissatisfaction” with policing among the 57 local respondents who responded.
Antisocial behaviour was among the issues they felt officers failed to tackle.
One respondent had said: “There doesn’t appear to be any deterrent for crime in the area apart from that provided by residents themselves.”
In response, New Forest district police commander Nick Marsden said officers were “well engaged” with the town council and partners on antisocial behaviour matters.
But Cllr Haywood maintained more needed to be done to address the problems affecting Ringwood.
“There certainly seems to have been an outbreak at present,” he told the A&T.
“This is about police resources and the fact that even though numbers are going up, they’ve been cut back so far during the last 13-14 years.
“People in general are concerned about crime in Ringwood, but criminal damage is clearly visible.”
He continued: “It clearly causes harm in what is damaged, but it also harms the feeling of trust in society.
“That’s why I think we need more police resources to help people feel safe.”
Having helped the Ringwood Community Fridge in its support for residents during the pandemic, Cllr Haywood was frustrated by the “mindless” vandalism there.
“A lot of volunteers put a lot of time into its efforts to support others,” he added.
New Forest Insp. Darren Ord said police were “doing everything we can to find those responsible” for the spate.
He said: “Officers will continue to provide high-visibility patrols in the area, so please speak with them if you have anything you want to discuss, or any concerns or issues you wish to raise.
“Additionally, if you also experienced any damage to your property last weekend, and haven’t yet reported this to us, please do so at the earliest opportunity.”
Witnesses are being urged to come forward, as well as those who may have useful CCTV, dash cam or mobile phone video footage.
Those with information should contact the force online at Hampshire.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting reference 44240050823.
Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously at crimestoppers-uk.org or on 0800 555 111.