CRIME across Eastleigh has soared with new figures revealing that robberies have doubled in the last year.

Meanwhile, incidents of stalking, harassment, malicious communications and minor assaults have shot-up by 24 per cent.

Defined as violence without injury, there were 2,102 of these incidents reported in 2019 and just 1,695 in 2018.

Robberies have doubled with the vast majority of these being youth on youth involved with drugs according to the borough council (EBC).

The council reports that the negative effects of drug dealing and county lines has been a factor.

This has involved a group of young people who have committed violent acts against other young people as part of their involvement in the drug supply chain.

In 2019 there were 88 robberies and just 43 in 2018.

Violence with injury has gone up by 5.6 per cent rising from 1,005 incidents in 2018 to 1,061 in 2019.

Residential burglaries rose 24 per cent from 251 to 202.

While burglaries including sheds, garages and homes rose 11.7 per cent from 393 to 439.

However, most serious violence has decreased by 20 per cent from 63 incidents in 2018 to 50 in 2019

Similarly, anti-social behaviour has reportedly dropped by 10.7 per cent, with 2,177 incidents in 2019 and 2,439 in 2018.

Overall, in 2018 there were 8,146 crimes and in 2019 there were 8,690 meaning crime across Eastleigh has risen by 6.7 per cent.

The figures were published in a council report presented to the policy and performance scrutiny panel on January 30.

The panel reviews the work of the Eastleigh Community Safety Partnership (CSP) which tackles crime and disorder along with anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol abuse and reducing reoffending.

Leader of EBC, Keith House said: "It is hardly surprising that reported crime has gone up with the massive cuts to police budgets from the Conservative government over the last decade. The police do not have the resources to follow up on many crimes up to and including assault, and people know this. Austerity is biting hard, with no solution on the horizon. The Police & Crime Commissioner needs to get a grip and work much more closely with communities to tackle low-level crime, freeing police up from bureaucracy to get back out on the beat.”

Meanwhile Tory MP for Eastleigh, Paul Holmes said: "Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour is a key priority of mine. That is why I welcome the Government’s pledge to recruit 20,000 extra police officers which will mean more officers on the beat in our communities. I have also met with the Chief Constable recently to discuss what more can be done locally."

Leader of the Conservative Group in Eastleigh, Cllr Margaret Atkinson said: "Eastleigh borough is still a low crime area despite the reports showing significantly increased percentages in some specific crime types.

"I think it is worth noting that although the percentage increases are high the increase in numbers is still quite low, and largely youth on youth re drugs - even so this is still concerning.

"I would like to see more resources applied to support initiatives for crime prevention across the board."

Members of the CSP include Eastleigh Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

EBC has blamed the rise in figures on the government "constantly changing the definitions and recording rules for police forces making annual comparisons difficult".

Chief Inspector Darren Miller said: “We apply our focus to the incidents that cause the most harm to our communities so we’re really pleased to see that most serious violence has decreased. We know there has been an increase in burglary of sheds and outbuildings and we are working hard to reduce that number by targeting patrols and offering advice to residents about home security.

“Much of this overall increase stems from the improvements we have made in relation to the accuracy of our crime recording, specifically with domestic related crimes. Identifying those at risk of domestic abuse and identifying perpetrators as soon as possible helps us help victims get the support they need and enables us to robustly deal with offenders.

“We acknowledge there was a noticeable increase in robbery and we can attribute this rise to a series of crimes that happened last year. We were proactive in tackling and identifying offenders and as such this series has now stopped.

“Our officers and police staff continue to work tirelessly to respond to as much as they possibly can. It is well known that Hampshire Constabulary has lower funding than other forces, with 550 fewer officers than in 2014. We are also seeing the same kind of increase in violence that is happening across the country. That means our priority has to be tackling these most serious crimes.

“The opportunity to recruit extra police officers is welcomed by the force, just as it is by the public and businesses. There is a reality in how long it takes to recruit and train these new officers, and whilst this happens we know that we will continue to work in an extremely challenging environment. What we can guarantee is that we will do everything we possibly can, with our partners and with the resources we have got, to protect people and prevent crime.”