SECURITY guards have been brought in to patrol a beauty spot following increased reports of anti-social behaviour.
It comes after a spate of vandalism in the area, which a councillor could have been carried out by people who had been drinking or taking drugs.
In June Hampshire police introduced dispersal orders which allowed officers to tell groups of two or more people to leave Compton Lock and Hockley Link, near Winchester.
The orders have now expired which has resulted in Twyford Parish Council and Compton and Shawford Parish Council combining forces to bring in company Venture Security to patrol the Compton Lock area at weekends during the late afternoons.
The scheme started on July 24 and will run for 6 weeks through to the first week in September and may be extended if needed. A ranger on patrol will provide cover for two hours from about 5pm to 7pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Twyford Parish Council chairman Waine Lawton said: “It is recognised that the police are too stretched at times to respond, particularly at weekends, and by using Venture Security it will provide the two parishes with reliable cover without having to call upon them.”
The rangers will have the power to require people to give their name and address, to require a name and address for antisocial behaviour, to make a person under the age of 18 to surrender alcohol and to seize tobacco from a person under 16. They cannot detain nor arrest, but the councils anticipates that their presence will be a sufficient deterrent.
The security will not cost both parish councils up to September as it is covered by grants awarded under Hampshire County Council’s Covid-19 scheme
It comes as a sign was broken and removed at Compton Lock on the weekend of July 25 and 26. A feature board from the nearby Compton Place was also badly damaged.
Those who carried out the act of vandalism have been criticised for their actions by a Shawford footpath warden.
John Wilkinson OBE told the Chronicle: “These acts, perhaps fuelled by drink/drugs, were senseless and very upsetting and will now cost significant parish funds to repair and/or replace.”