ANGRY residents and business owners have hit out at problems caused by a "severely underfunded" police force.

More than 800 residents and 100 business owners from Shirley signed a petition calling on Alan Whitehead to raise the issue in the House of Commons.

This comes after traders and residents told the Daily Echo about the "terrible" anti-social behaviour in Shirley High Street.

In October Hampshire Police issued a two day dispersal order after 87 incidences of anti-social behaviour were reported to police in the High Street in the past five months.

The petition, which was set up by the Shirley Be Proud group, will be handed Councillor Dave Shields, who represents the Freemantle ward, along with Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane.

Cllr Shields said: "I am really impressed with nearly 1,000 signatures from local Shirley Freemantle businesses and residents urging Alan Whitehead, MP to convey your heartfelt displeasure at the way in which the present government has severely underfunded our police force."

Tony Weafer, who runs Shirley and Freemantle Watch and who is spearheading the petition said: "Having officers on the streets makes things better.

"Crime in Shirley is unimaginable at the moment in comparison to what it used to be.

"Traders want a visible police force.

"Crime is damaging the growth and reputation of Shirley.

"People think twice now before coming here."

Ian Green, 53, who owns Ambient Objects in Shirley Road said: "Crime has got ridiculous.

"It's everywhere.

"Traders feel vulnerable.

"My biggest fear is something is going to happen and a shop owner will defend themselves.

"I hope this petition sends a serious message to the powers that be.

"We need a regular bobby on the beat to give people confidence.

"Some people are frightened to death."

Councillor Mark Chaloner, who represents the Shirley ward said: "This petition is fully supported.

"Policing is insufficient.

"This is not the fault of any serving officer, it's down to the PCC and the chief constable.

"There have been a rise in complaints about crime.

"We need police on the streets as a deterrent."

Phil Rolf, who owns Jim Rolf's fruit and vegetable shop in Shirley High Street said: "The government are responsible for keeping us safe and they are failing.

"We want a higher level of policing.

"There needs to be a deterrent."

Pete Gallagher, who owns Make it Magic in the High Street has previously expressed his concern about crime and anti-social behaviour in Shirley.

He said: "I have worked in Shirley for 25 years and I don't think there is necessarily more anti-social behaviour but it definitely has got a lot more aggressive."

Pete said that a regular group of youths come into the shop and damage his stock.

He said: "They are so rude and have no respect at all, its ridiculous as we can't do anything about it."

"This petition is all about making a point.

"A few small voices can make one big voice and small changes can make a big difference."

Michael Lane, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Since being elected I have lobbied hard on behalf of the residents of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, and Southampton for fairer and sufficient funding for policing and for those aspects of work beyond policing.

“I welcome this support from local business owners and Cllr Dave Shields, and I hear their concerns.

"I am currently consulting with the public over the budget and policing element of the council tax to ensure that I am hearing the views of all communities in the Hampshire Constabulary policing area.

“I recently addressed concerns of business owners that have been raised with me in a scrutiny session with the Chief Constable.

“It is well known that policing budgets are under pressure and I agree that meeting the needs of our communities will require a financial uplift to recognise both increased demand and changes in crime.

" The Government has also agreed that the funding formula needs to change, but that has not happened in time for setting the budget and council tax for 2019/20.”