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Supporting crime-hit rural communities including the New Forest among priorities in police plan

RURAL crime in areas like the New Forest is among priorities in a three-year plan set out by Hampshire’s new police and crime commissioner.

Conservative commissioner Donna Jones vowed the document, named More Police Safer Streets, “does what it says on the tin” to increase police visibility across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

It sets out a vision to give rural communities a voice with measures to combat offences affecting them, including expanded use of drones over the countryside.

New Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones has set out priorities in her More Police Safer Streets document
New Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones has set out priorities in her More Police Safer Streets document

Another priority is the previously reported target to recruit 600 extra officers by the end of 2023, as well as bringing policing to people’s communities with more high street stations.

Home Office figures showed that numbers of frontline officers in the county dropped from 3,658 in 2010 to 2,812 in 2020.

The plans also includes a "zero tolerance" approach to knife crime, and it aims to work with young people to keep them away from crime.

A more customer-focused approach to police call handling is also prioritised, as well as tackling anti-social behaviour and cracking down on unauthorised encampments.

Commissioner Jones said: “It does what it says on the tin and will mean a stronger and more visible police presence able to investigate more crimes and secure more convictions.

“There is also important work to be done on improving working with the court system. As part of a balanced approach, I propose more provision to help keep young adults away from crime and for working with partners to help drug users who want to break their addiction.”

People’s views are being sought in a public consultation. Once finalised, the plan will have to be backed by Hampshire Constabulary and its chief constable, Olivia Pinkney.

Physical and virtual consultation events are planned, and feedback can also be submitted online at morepolicesaferstreets.com until 1st October.

Commissioner Jones has also welcomed donations from national organisations the Critical Support Fund for community-based sexual violence and domestic abuse support, and the Male Rape Support Fund.

This has seen the YOU Trust awarded £23,001 for the 2021/22 financial year and £36,750 for the 2022/23 financial year for a health independent domestic violence advisor.

The handouts to help support male victims of rape or sexual abuse are £35,525 to the YOU Trust, £20,897 to Yellow Door; and £22,266 to Community First.

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