A CITY centre policing team is set to be reintroduced to tackle violent crime in Southampton.

The government backed Southampton City Centre Policing Team will be returning this month and is dedicated to tackling violent crime.

Officers will be reallocated from Southampton Central’s Neighbourhood Police Team to form the unit which includes a sergeant with support from dedicated PCs and PCSOs.

The initiative comes after budget cuts in 2009 meant police forces reduced in the city, resulting in residents and businesses being subjected to “increasing levels of crime” according to Go!Southampton.

Sergeant Sal Ferris said: “Our City Centre Team are focussing on reducing and preventing violent crime and public disorder in the city. We can only achieve this by working collaboratively with our partners, business owners, security teams and the public.

“We are committed to making Southampton City a safer place for everyone to enjoy.”

This follows a letter to the Hampshire Police Crime Commissioner last year, from the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) GO! Southampton which requested an urgent review of city centre policing.

This was after 70 per cent of its members felt fear of crime was a significant issue with 63 per cent having witnessed at least one staff member assaulted in the last 12 months.

Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton said the return of the police team is “hugely welcome and a relief for the businesses”.

“We’ve been fighting for a long time to improve the overall safety in Southampton as well as reduce crime – and we hope the police presence will go even further in achieving that.”

Bargate ward councillor, Sarah Bogle, said: “I recognise that crime has negatively impacted city centre businesses but it is also having an effect on the 1000s of people who live in the city centre.

“I hope that the new team will not be to the detriment of residents. Overall I believe police resources are still nowhere near where they need to be.”