SOUTHAMPTON has the third highest rate of car theft and vandalism in the south.

New data has shown that more than 1,000 vehicles were stolen or damaged in the city between April 2017 and March 2018.

This puts Southampton as the third worst city for vehicle crime in the south behind Bristol and neighbouring Portsmouth.

Civic chiefs have branded the data as “shocking”, claiming the figures have been made “far worse” due to Government cuts in the policing budget.

According to data, from, a total of 1,379 vehicles were stolen or damaged in Southampton last year, giving the city a vehicle crime rate of 5.46 offences per 1,000 population.

Councillor David Shields said that car theft was a “major concern” for the council and claimed that the problem “seems pronounced” in some “less affluent” parts of the city.

He added: “Neither of these worrying sets of figures comes as a particular surprise to us as they reflect a growing problem nationwide, particularly in areas that have been at the blunt end of Government’s austerity measures.

“However, our problems in Southampton have been made far worse due to Government cuts in policing budget which has seen the number of officers reduced in recent years – especially in places like Southampton where, according to figures obtained by Alan Whitehead, MP, the number of frontline police has been slashed by a third since 2010.”

Royston Smith, MP for Itchen Southampton, said the figures were “disappointing”.

He continued: “I have been contacted by a number of constituents about this and I’m concerned at the lack of police response.

“I understand the pressure the police are under and the 200 new officers this year for Hampshire and our share of the PM’s commitment for a further 20,000 police officers will help.

“I would like to see some additional patrols and particularly reassurance from the police.”