A FESTIVE campaign to tackle shoplifting in Romsey has resulted a drop in reported offences.

Operation Scrooge saw officers from Test Valley’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams carry out high-visibility patrols in town centres to deter shoplifters in the run-up to Christmas.

They also liaised with local businesses and worked with Romsey Town Council and Test Valley Borough Council.

In December, police received 32 reports of shoplifting across the Test Valley district, down from 47 reports in December 2018 – a reduction of 32 per cent.

Inspector Chris Taylor said: “This is a good result and I’m pleased that the work we did with our partners has resulted in a reduction in shoplifting in December.

“A number of people have been arrested and charged as a result of our enquiries.

“Romsey and Andover are safe places to live and work, but they are not immune from those who want to take advantage of shoppers and retailers over the Christmas period."

Officers also handed out free crime prevention bells that could be attached to purses and bags to deter pickpockets.

He added: “We will continue to look at a range of options to tackle offenders, including the use of Criminal Behaviour Orders for the most prolific offenders, which give the courts greater sentencing options.

“Despite these good results, we still believe that there is an underreporting of shoplifting offences. We want all businesses to report offences, which can be done online via the Hampshire Constabulary website or by dialling 101. This allows us to target our resources to support stores, especially at Christmas.”

As previously reported in the Daily Echo, extra security has been deployed across Romsey to cut down crime over Christmas.

Romsey Town Centre usually sees a peak in retail and street crime in the lead up to Christmas, this activity is often undertaken by organised professional criminals who move into areas such as Romsey.

Two security guards, from AEC Protection, will be patrolling the streets during the Christmas period at all times and a radio scheme to link the shops to the guards will be in place.